‘High Noon’ On Broadway: Beloved Hollywood Western To Be Adapted For Stage By ‘Forrest Gump’ Writer Eric Roth

'High Noon', Gary Cooper, 1952 Everett

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Broadway will get a Western play for the first time in decades next year when High Noon, a world premiere stage adaptation by Forrest Gump scribe Eric Roth of the Stanley Kramer-produced 1952 film classic, arrives on the New York stage.

Michael Arden, whose Once On This Island won the Tony Award for Best Musical Revival in 2018, will direct.

“It’s an Everest challenge to translate to the stage,” said Paula Wagner, who will produce with Hunter Arnold, in an exclusive interview with Deadline. “But if anyone can do it, it’s Eric Roth and our director Michael Arden.”

Roth, who has been nominated for six Academy Awards for Best Adapted Screenplay (The Insider, Munich, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, A Star is Born, Dune and winner Forrest Gump) will make his Broadway debut with High Noon. The adaptation will unfold in real time over the course of its two-hour running time, similar to the film.

Production dates, additional design team, casting and venue will be announced at a later date.

One of the most influential and beloved of Hollywood’s classic film Westerns, director Fred Zinnemann’s High Noon starred Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly in the powerful tale of a town marshal who stands up against an outlaw gang – and an entire town – to do the right thing. Carl Foreman wrote the original screenplay.

“The time was right for this story,” Wagner told Deadline. “It was a great allegory then and it’s a great allegory now.”

The film was nominated for seven Oscars, including Best Picture, and won four. Wagner wouldn’t disclose the specific approach that Roth and Arden will take, but said the play will remain true to the classic film, and not be a contemporary reimagining. “The core to any great piece of entertainment is the story at the heart of it,” she said, “and the characters, and the story and the characters of High Noon translate very well the the values that we still share.”

Wagner said the idea for the stage adaptation was Roth’s, and that the project has been developing over the past couple years through the pandemic shutdown. “Eric and I spoke on the phone and we started talking and he said You know I love High Noon and I think it would be a great play. And I said, Wow you’re right. And I immediately said We can do this.”

Director Arden will return to the Broadway stage following his acclaimed productions of Deaf West’s Spring Awakening and Once on This Island.

High Noon was selected by the Library of Congress in 1989 to be preserved in the National Film Registry for being “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.”

Karen S. Kramer, Stanley Kramer’s widow, said in a statement, “Today….we see our Constitution being challenged unlike any time in our history. The story of High Noon reminds us of what we stand for — truth, justice and the hard-fought values of our democracy. We are blessed that the future of High Noon is now in the capable hands of such talents as one of the esteemed voices of our time, writer playwright Eric Roth and the stellar producer Paula Wagner. The legacy of Stanley Kramer’s High Noon is safely upheld with these two great artists. We look forward to the re-imagined story for future generations.”

Karen S. Kramer and her partner, Steve Jaffe, serve as consulting producers, with 101 Productions, Ltd. serving as General Manager.

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