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Bashful 'Bride'

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Broadway Matinee

THAT yet another Holly wood movie is being turned into a stage musical hardly qualifies as news anymore.

Times Square is already packed with such shows - "The Producers," "Hairspray," "Spamalot," "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels," "The Lion King" - and at least a dozen more, including "The Color Purple," "Legally Blonde" and "The Wedding Singer," are in the pipeline.

Why, then, does Broadway seem tantalized by the prospect of "The Princess Bride" as a musical?

As The Post reported last week, William Goldman is adapting his beloved movie (based on his 1973 novel) with composer Adam Guettel, who won the Tony this year for his score for "The Light in the Piazza."

The project is generating excitement for a number of reasons.

For one thing, theater producers have been after "The Princess Bride" since it debuted in 1987. A witty fairy tale adventure featuring giants, monsters, romance and great sword-fights, it's perfect material for a big family musical comedy.

The title is also popular with women, who buy 75 percent of the tickets sold on Broadway.

But despite several lucrative offers, Goldman, who declined to comment for this article, has never sold the stage rights to any producer.

"I think everybody in this business has come to him at one time or another, but he's never said yes," says a person close to the writer.

There is still no producer for "The Princess Bride."

Goldman and Guettel are going to write the musical first, then shop it around.

The longer it remains off the auction block, the more valuable it is likely to become.

One insider says Goldman and Guettel will "have the upper hand" in any negotiations with producers.

"They will have enormous creative control, and they will be able to demand a substantial share of the profits," he says.

The union of Goldman and Guettel is another reason why the musical version of "The Princess Bride" has captured Broadway's imagination.

Goldman, 74, is one of the most successful screenwriters of all time. His credits include "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," "All the President's Men" and "Marathon Man."

His Broadway résumé is considerably thinner.

It includes just one musical - "A Family Affair," which he wrote with his brother James and the composer John Kander in 1962 (Walter Kerr called it "A most appealing almost") - and one play, an Army comedy called "Blood, Sweat and Stanley Poole."

But his name is legendary in the theater world because of his book "The Season," in which he ruthlessly dissected the 1967-68 season on Broadway.

Well-thumbed copies of "The Season" can be found on every producer and theater reporter's shelf.

Guettel, 40, is the grandson of Richard Rodgers, and is considered to lead the pack of young-ish composers and lyricists who are trying to breathe new life into the Broadway musical.

But producers wish he were a little more prolific (it took him more than 10 years to write "The Light in the Piazza") and a little less arty.

They tend to admire his music rather than hum it.

But if ever there was a project for which he'll have to write in the tuneful, joyous musical comedy vein of his grandfather, "The Princess Bride" is it.

Says one producer: "Adam is finally going to have to give in to his genes and write a real musical comedy."

Copyright 2004 NYP Holdings, Inc. All rights reserved.

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