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NEW GARBO MUSICAL TO OPEN IN SWEDEN THIS YEAR

A new Swedish musical about the life of reclusive Swedish-born film legend Greta Garbo will open in Stockholm in September, Swedish news agency TT reported.

"Garbo the Musical" will feature new material about the star recently released by her relatives in the United States and music inspired by pop star Celine Dion, producer Mikael Hellqvist told the agency.

"The focus in the musical will be Garbo's adult life as a film star, as well as her private life and life after her career," Hellqvist said.

The show will open at Stockholm's Oscar Theatre in September, and Hellqvist said he hoped the show would run in London and on Broadway in 2005, when Garbo would have turned 100.

He said the production team had signed an agreement with Garbo's closest relatives in the United States giving them access to facts about the actress' life, historical elements and a large private collection of photos from people who knew and lived with her.

Composer Jim Steinman, who has worked together with pop composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and Dion, will write the music for the show, while Scott Faris, who has directed Chicago, Les Miserables and Cabaret, will direct.

Gunilla Backman, a Swede currently starring in the musical Chess in Copenhagen, is slated to play the title role after beating out 700 other women for the part.

Garbo was born Greta Gustafsson in 1905 in the working-class Soeder district of Stockholm, where she is buried. She worked as a hair-washer in a beauty salon and an elevator girl in a Stockholm department store before studying theater at Sweden's royal theater, Dramaten.

She moved to the United States in 1923 and became a US citizen in 1951.

Garbo initially worked in silent films, then moved on to "talkies" such as "Mata Hari," "Ninotchka," and "Grand Hotel."

After 1975 she refused to return to Sweden, saying she feared being pestered by the press, and died a recluse in 1990 in New York.