Musical Version of Hit George Strait Movie Has Film School Screenwriter Instructor Dreaming of Broadway
In 1992, about the time that many of today’s film school students were born, screenwriter Rex McGee’s film “Pure Country” was released in theaters. The movie starred George Strait as a commercially successful country singer who leaves his career, returns home and seeks out his country roots.
McGee, who teaches screenwriting to film school students at KD Studio in Dallas, has transformed his original film into a musical production for the stage. A number of local celebrities gathered at the Casa Manana Theater on May 20 for a staged reading of McGee’s musical.
McGee, who has given workshops at top film schools, tapped Michael Skipper, Fort Worth native and winner of a Tony for “In the Heights,” to produce the reading. North Texas native Joel Ferrell, associate artistic director for the Dallas Theater Center, provided direction.
Although McGee kept two big numbers from the film, including “Heartland” and “I Cross My Heart,” he requested 15 original songs for the musical. “Pure Country” is George Strait’s top selling album of all time, and the film’s songwriters, John Bettis and Steve Dorff, are known at the best film schools in America for their outstanding musical credits.
McGee earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of Southern California, home of one of the country’s top film schools. In total, he has sold over 20 film and television scripts, including Hallmark Channel production “Where There’s a Will” starring Marion Ross. Many students at good film schools know that “Pure Country” is a thinly veiled account of McGee’s own journey back to Texas.
The “Pure Country” reading was staged to attract funding for a complete production. If it secures investment, the musical will tour six Texas cities. Additionally, McGee hopes take some time away from teaching film school students to fund a national tour and, if all goes well, the company will take the production to Broadway.
Like many KD Studio faculty, Rex McGee continues to be active either onscreen, onstage or behind the camera.