If the long tradition of hit musicals set in our country’s bygone and distant eras—Hamilton, 1776, Beetlejuice—has taught us anything, it’s that Broadway loves the past. Sometimes that past is distant, and sometimes it’s more recent—as when Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark featured nightly one-person performances of its leading man’s life flashing before his eyes. And sometimes it’s the sort of history that you could once periodically catch on Nick At Nite, as with the news today that Fran Drescher’s ’90s sitcom The Nanny is getting the Broadway musical treatment, with original series creators Drescher and Peter Marc Jacobson writing the book, and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s Rachel Bloom co-writing the music and lyrics.
Bloom is collaborating on the project with Adam Schlesinger, with whom she won an Emmy for the final season of her CW TV musical. Talking about the original incarnation of The Nanny—Nanny 1.0, as we’re now forced to think of it—Bloom noted that it “was a fundamental part of my childhood, because it was the first time I saw an openly Jewish female protagonist on television.” She went on to praise the show’s relatability and heart, saying that, “The story of Fran Fine is a universal one that has touched the hearts of people of every race, religion and orientation.” Drescher and Jacobson—long-time writing partners who were also married for several years—were equally effusive about both Bloom and Schlesinger, as well as director Marc Bruni. Casting is still an active process; Drescher quipped of the titular role that “Of course I would do it myself, but we’d have to change the title to The Granny,” which is a nice bit of Fran Drescher-style comedy business.
For those unfamiliar with the premise of The Nanny, it goes something like this: She was working in a bridal shop in Flushing, Queens, before her boyfriend kicked her out. (It was one of those crushing scenes.) What was she to do? Where was she to go? To use a bit of a colloquialism: She was out on her fanny. Picking herself up in the face of adversity, though, she went over the bridge from Flushing, to the Sheffield family’s door. She was there to sell make-up, but the father (Charles Shaughnessy) saw more. She had style; she had flair. And if we’re being honest: She was there.
That is how she became The Nanny.