Joe NicholsJoe Nichols will have to wait a little bit longer to follow his musical hero's footsteps into the acting world.

The singer, who has been tapped to play the lead role in the Broadway adaptation of the 1992 George Strait movie, 'Pure Country,' tells The Boot that rehearsals have been pushed back to early fall. "The economy has hit everybody on the planet," says Joe, "and Broadway is no exception."

When Joe flew up to New York to audition several months ago, the producers gave him the part that very same day. Not bad for the Arkansas native who has never stepped foot on a Broadway stage.

"I'm excited," exclaims Joe of his new venture. "I don't think anybody expects me to jump out of the box and be this Broadway sensation or anything like that. The pressure is kind of low. First of all, (I'll be) singing country songs which I do every night anyway. I'm playing a country singer, which I already am. It doesn't seem like that far of a stretch! New York's never heard of me, so there's nobody keeping their eyeballs on me expecting me to do great things. I think the only thing I'm going to try to remember is to go up to New York and have a little bit of fun and represent Nashville in country music in a classy way, and maybe try to get away from a little bit of the 'thumbs-in-the-belt-loops,' 'aw shucks,' 'howdy partner' kind of stigma that New York seems to have on us."

Although Joe would love to ask George for advice about acting, that hasn't happened. "I've heard him talk a little bit about it in interviews," he says. "I wish I knew George Strait that well! If I could pick up the phone and call him, that would be awesome. I've heard that he's given me the thumbs up, thinks it's a great idea ... and with that kind of seal of approval, what else do you need?"

Besides, Joe is already very familiar with the role, admitting, "I saw the movie six times when it was in the theater ... Since then, I've seen it a hundred times at least!"

So, how excited would Joe be if George showed up to watch him perform?

"I'd be tickled to death," Joe says with a big laugh. "I probably couldn't go on. It would scare the crap out of me."

In the meantime, Joe is thrilled that Lorrie Morgan will be performing on the Broadway stage with him, playing his manager, Lula. "I think she's a great fit for the character. Country fans are very familiar with her. She brings a lot to the show. She's a great singer, a great entertainer, and just her name value is pretty big. She's a wonderful lady."

If all goes as planned, 'Pure Country' should open late fall or early winter of 2010 in the Big Apple.