According to the Hollywood Reporter, “The Lion King” producer Peter Schneider and "The Old Woman" Elisabetta di Mambro have obtained the rights to the novel. Gruen’s book is set in the 1930s and follows a young veterinarian-in-training who joins the circus and falls in love with a married member of the company even as she also befriends a trained elephant.
Schneider also produced the stage musical “Sister Act.”
“I have loved Sara Gruen's Water for Elephants since it was first published and was captivated by its theatricality,” Schneider said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Gruen said in a statement that she is “beyond thrilled to be involved in a creative process that is entirely new to me, especially with such wonderfully talented people at the helm to reimagine my work for the stage.”
According to THR, the show is expected to premiere on Broadway.
Perhaps the creative team is hoping to recapture the success of another circus-based show. When the musical “Pippin” returned to Broadway in 2013, the show took place in a circus atmosphere. “Pippin” won a Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical.
“Elephants” was previously the basis for a 2011 movie that starred Robert Pattinson as veterinarian Jacob Jankowski, Reese Witherspoon as performer Marlena, and Christoph Waltz as her husband August. Monitor film critic Peter Rainer gave the film a B, writing that “the Depression that we see is a bit too gussied up and commemorative … [but] Pattinson seems at home here … [and] Waltz … confirms the gift for preening nastiness that had its fullest flower in ‘Inglourious Basterds.’ "
Rainer added, however, that "The best film’s best performance ... comes from Rosie the elephant.”