'Widows' Actress Cynthia Erivo To Star In Rip Van Winkle Movie Musical, Based On An Idea By Josh Gad

Hollywood has been sleeping on a Rip Van Winkle movie, but it looks like they're about to get a wake up call.

Cynthia Erivo, who broke out last year in a big way with roles in Steve McQueen's heist film Widows and Drew Goddard's period thriller Bad Times at the El Royale, is attached to star in a musical film adaptation of the classic Washington Irving short story. Josh Gad (Frozen, Beauty and the Beast) hatched the idea, and the writer of the upcoming Plastic Man movie is on board to write the screenplay. What a combo!

Can you think of a more Mad Libs collection of words than "a Rip Van Winkle movie musical starring Cynthia Erivo based on a story by Josh Gad and written by the writer of Plastic Man"? Because I'm coming up empty. But according to The Hollywood Reporter, this thing is really happening. To add one more element to the seemingly off-the-wall nature of this project, the movie's songs will be written by Kate Anderson and Elissa Samsel, who previously wrote the songs for Olaf's Frozen Adventure, the controversial Frozen short that played in front of Coco back in 2017.

Amanda Idoko, who's writing DC's Plastic Man film and who wrote the upcoming Breaking News in Yuba County (which stars Allison Janney and Laura Dern), is turning Gad's idea into a finished screenplay. The report doesn't say what Gad's take is, so we're left wondering what sort of spin, if any, he's put on Irving's classic short story. Rip Van Winkle is about a man who escapes his nagging wife by wandering into the mountains, only to get drunk with a bunch of ghosts who love bowling (yes, really) and fall into a sleep that lasts twenty years. He ends up sleeping through the entire Revolutionary War, and wakes up to discover that his children are adults and the world has passed him by.

This isn't the first property I'd come to when thinking about potential movie musicals, but Erivo's musical talent is unquestionable: she won a Tony Award for her work in The Color Purple before memorably belting out some 1960s tunes in Bad Times at the El Royale. My question is, who is she going to play in this thing? The nagging wife? That won't go over well. A gender-swapped version of Rip Van Winkle, maybe? She'll next be seen on screen playing Harriet Tubman in a biopic from Focus Features later this year.

Gad is producing with Dan Lin and Jonathan Eirich, and Erivo is executive producing alongside Ryan Halprin.