Audrey Niffenegger turns rom-com to a dramatic race against time

A week into her screenwriting career, Ohio-born Audrey Niffenegger gave Tinseltown its first taste of her killer voice. “Tick, Tick … Boom!” was adapted from the bestselling novel of the same name and her next novel, “The Time Traveler’s Wife,” made it to the screen in 2004. Published a decade later, the events that unfold in “The Disaster Artist” — an oddball, hilarious, and true story about the making of the “worst movie ever made” — earned Niffenegger an Oscar nomination for her script. Over the course of her career, she’s been part of the greater narrative of the comic-book adaptation, the classic musical and a surprise blockbuster that charmed some and set the world on fire with its debut at last year’s Academy Awards.

Perhaps just as satisfying for Niffenegger’s fans, Niffenegger created “Encanto,” a song-and-dance number in the prologue of “Steve Jobs” that is so good it likely should have been the unofficial song-and-dance number in the movie. In the process, she has also drawn a TV pilot for TBS that shows the kind of tone and humor she brings to her screenplays — that as characters learn to lean on each other, they also lean on the emotional references they’ve heard in more recent film comedies, and indeed, television comedies for years, in a way that may have been impossible to pull off so far. It’s no small feat for a show to be as good as these tracks, even as it strips back much of the polish of traditional musicals.

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