Last night on stage at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville country legend Loretta Lynn announced that Coal Miner’s Daughter, the biopic about her humble beginnings, is coming to Broadway. She also announced that she would be played by satchel of pixie dust Zooey Deschanel. An announcement wasn’t enough, Zooey D. even came out on stage and performed a duet of the title song in front of a country-loving crowd. Zooey, being the modern woman that she is, made the same announcement on Twitter, which is like a 140 character Grand Olde Opry performance every day. This pairing is going to be good.
Zooey not only croons about cotton in commercials and dances with Siri in the rain, she’s quite an accomplished musician and vocalist (she has a band called She & Him, if you didn’t know) so she should have no problem matching Lynn’s signature style. It’s her acting that might prove to be a bit troublesome. She’s best known for her roles when she’s twee and winsome, twirling around in a skirt and flirtily batting her eyes at some lucky boy. It will be interesting to see her play someone poor and simple trying to follow her dreams and get out of poverty and into the shining world of country. And she has big shoes to fill. Sissy Spacek won an Oscar in 1980 for her portrayal of Lynn in the famous film version. It’s hard enough trying to impress the sharpened quills of the Broadway critics, and even worse when there’s such a wonderful record of the same role so readily available.
The other complication is that this is going to have to be a limited run for Deschanel, who is currently starring in Fox’s hit sitcom New Girl. Even if she spends her entire hiatus doing eight shows a week in New York, she can only be on stage for several months before the curtain will have to go down and she’ll have to go back to her day job (and that doesn’t even account for rehearsal time, previews, and catching up on the first season of Smash so she’ll have something to talk to the chorus boys about). If she doesn’t even have time to date because of the show, how is she going to have time to learn lines, memorize songs, and hit all of her marks?
It’s a tough spot to have too many jobs, but it’s Broadway fans who will be left in the lurch if the show turns out to be a hit. Maybe the producers should start looking for qualified replacements right now. Kellie Pickler is updating her resume right now (yeah, break a leg, Kellie.)
Follow Brian Moylan on Twitter @BrianJMoylan