Richard Linklater is directing a movie musical that will star Ben Platt and Beanie Feldstein. The Oscar-nominated Boyhood director has had a lengthy and well-regarded career ever since unveiling his indie cult hit Slacker in 1990.

Linklater’s work has evolved substantially over the years, though he’s always remained true to his roots. He often films in his native state, Texas, on smaller budgets with work that is typically quite philosophical in nature. As a filmmaker, he is responsible for discovering Matthew McConaughey and casting him as the loveable yet slightly creepy Wooderson in the cult hit, coming of age comedy Dazed and Confused. It was through the notoriety gained from Dazed and Confused that allowed Linklater to go a little more mainstream with his next film, casting Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy in 1995’s Before Sunrise, a thoughtful meditation on falling in love and the highs and lows entailed therein. The film spawned its own franchise, with Linklater completing the third installment, Before Midnight, in 2013.

Though his directing resume is extensive, few films of his have made the impact that Boyhood made, with its phenomenal 12-year shooting schedule that allowed audiences to watch the film’s characters grow and change. As things currently stand, it looks as though Linklater is ready to delve into a long-term directorial commitment once more. According to Collider, Linklater’s next project will be an adaptation of composer Stephen Sondheim’s 2013 musical Merrily We Roll Along, which was originally written as a play in 1934. Already confirmed to join his latest production are Ben Platt (Pitch Perfect 2) and Beanie Feldstein (Lady Bird, Booksmart).

Merrily We Roll Along takes place over the course of 20 years – a timeline that Linklater intends to honor – and tells the story of Broadway composer Franklin Shepard (Platt), as he abandons a successful Broadway career in New York in order to head to Hollywood and produce films. As the story flashes back to stages of Shepard’s career throughout the years, his life is revealed and his friendship to theatre critic Mary Flynn (Feldstein) is highlighted. Linklater intends to shoot the film in reverse chronological order, as the story ends with the characters in their mid-twenties, at the start of their theatre careers. The 20-year shoot schedule means that Linklater will be 79 when shooting finishes, arguably making the film the grand opus of his extensive and celebrated career.

Considering that Linklater’s Boyhood was so well received due in part to its 12-year shooting schedule, Merrily We Roll Along looks to be set to really blow audiences and critics alike away. Add to this extended shoot that the film is a musical, and there’s plenty of reason to believe why Linklater could indeed be potentially set to achieve iconic filmmaking status with this effort. Even if the film doesn’t perform as intended, however, the sheer scope of the project is enough to gain respect from even the staunchest of critics, making Merrily We Roll Along a definite must-see when it arrives two decades from now.

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Source: Collider