Vanessa Hudgens is once again finding the music in her.
The former High School Musical star, who has impressed critics and audiences with her work in live TV musicals like Grease: Live and Rent: Live, is poised to lead the first reading of the season at Vassar and New York Stage & Film’s annual summer play development incubator known as the Powerhouse season.
EW can exclusively report that Hudgens will lead a staged reading of the musical adaptation of the beloved 2004 film The Notebook. Based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks, The Notebook is a romantic drama about the enduring love between Noah and Allie, spanning the earliest days of their teen courtship through their struggles to remember each other in their twilight years. Hudgens will portray “middle” Allie, the character played by Rachel McAdams on screen (opposite Ryan Gosling), who engages in the most torrid part of the central love affair.
Ingrid Michaelson is behind the production’s music and lyrics, while This Is Us writer Bekah Brunstetter penned the book. “When I was approached about working on Notebook, I had to excuse myself and go to the bathroom and cry and come back into the meeting,” Michaelson previously said in a statement. “I have loved the movie and the story for so many years now that the idea of turning it into a musical overwhelmed me. The concept of unending devotion and love wrapped up in memory and family is something very close to my own personal life… I cannot wait for the world to hear these characters come to life in a musical way.”
Michael Greif (Rent, If/Then) will direct. Jelani Alladin (Frozen), Nicholas Belton (Natasha, Pierre and The Great Comet of 1812), Candy Buckley (Cabaret), Antonio Cipriano (Jagged Little Pill), Tony and Grammy Award nominee Hailey Kilgore (Once On This Island), and two-time Tony Award winner James Naughton (Chicago) are among the rest of the cast. Kilgore is playing younger Allie, while Naughton is playing older Noah.
“When I first heard about The Notebook potentially being turned into a musical, I was instantly drawn to the idea,” Brunstetter said previously. “The story hits home for me in two big ways: It takes place in my home state of North Carolina, and Alzheimer’s runs deep in my family. I was sent a few songs Ingrid had already written for it, and that week, I spent my drives to and from work car-listening, memorizing, imagining the story unfold with music, imagining how I might layer worlds, dramatize memory, and before I even knew that I had to write the book for this, it was already starting to happen in my head.”
This one-time-only reading will take place June 23 at 3 p.m. ET.