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A chat with Ron Shelton after his 'Bull Durham' musical debuted in Atlanta

In Bull Durham, Ron Shelton’s classic 1988 baseball movie, Kevin Costner’s sage journeyman catcher, Crash Davis, is sent to the low-level minors to mentor a flame-throwing knucklehead named Nuke LaLoosh (Tim Robbins), who couldn’t hit water with his fastball if he fell out of a boat. One of them is on the fast-track to the big leagues, and the other is just trying to hang on for one more season of baseball—both of them are madly in love with a local Bulls’ groupie named Annie (Susan Sarandon).

On Sept. 3, Bull Durham the musical began a month of previews at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta. Atlanta isn’t exactly the Carolina League—Aida and The Color Purple had their starts at the Alliance. But if Broadway is The Show, then the show’s producers—including the film’s writer/director Ron Shelton—are hoping their production is more like Nuke. “We’re here until Oct. 5, but beyond that, we can’t say anything concrete,” says Shelton, who also penned the musical’s book, “but Broadway is obviously everyone’s goal and intention.”

Shelton, a former minor-league player himself who’s directed some of the finest sports movies of the last 25 years (White Men Can’t Jump, Tin Cup), fielded musical-theater offers for years before finally agreeing to bring his most famous work to the stage. Producers Jack Viertel and Laura Stanczyk approached Shelton about four years ago, and this time, he said yes. Since then, Shelton and lyricist Susan Werner have set out to make a musical that somehow incorporates both locker-room humor and Bermuda-Triangle references to a woman’s anatomy. A pair of Tony-nominees, Will Swenson (Hair) and Melissa Errico (Amour), play Crash and Annie, and John Behlmann cuts loose as Nuke, a regular nuclear meltdown.

Shelton spoke to EW the day after the show’s premiere. READ FULL STORY

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