The bayous of Louisiana are a long way from the bright lights of Broadway, but the magical allure of live theater is strong. The Robertsons, the family whose enormously successful duck call business spawned an even more successful reality show, can’t resist.
Patrick Healy of the New York Times reported Thursday that the “Duck Dynasty” crew has “convinced a team from Broadway to bring their story to the stage” with a 90-minute show set to open February in Las Vegas.
But production of “The Duck Commander Family Musical” has already experienced some turbulence, largely stemming from the fact that the family’s patriarch once railed against “homosexual offenders.”
Even before rehearsals start, the show is courting controversy. Several Broadway producers, many of whom are liberal, gay, or both, are aghast that colleagues would work with a family whose patriarch, Phil Robertson, has compared homosexuality to bestiality. Gay rights leaders are also eyeing the show with concern, while evangelical Christians — many of whom admire the Robertsons — might be hesitant to go to a Las Vegas casino and see whether New York artists have fairly rendered the family.
Any evangelical wary of the way “New York artists” will portray the family might take heart in what Healey wrote about the production just three paragraphs down.
Willie Robertson, chief executive of the Duck Commander company, which had $40 million in revenue in 2012 (a fraction of the sales of “Duck Dynasty” merchandise), said in a statement that the show had been “a great ride so far” for the family, which has approval rights over the script and casting.
It’s unclear if the Las Vegas production will fare any better than the family’s variety show in Missouri, which was planned for earlier this year and was ultimately canceled due to low ticket sales.
The people developing the musical have apparently gotten over Phil Robertson’s homophobic remarks.
The show’s musical director John Calhoun, who is gay, told the Times that he and the Robertsons have “agreed to disagree on some things, but we’re family and we love and respect each other.”