Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat will be the subject of a new Broadway-bound musical composed by Jon Batiste, bandleader and musical director of CBS’ The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. The project was announced today by producers Alan D. Marks and Barbara Marks, with Tony winner John Doyle set to direct.
The development team, according to the producers (Dear Evan Hansen), is working closely with the Basquiat Estate and have secured the rights to the painter’s art work and personal archives.
Additional creative team members and a production schedule will be announced at a later date.
Basquiat’s sisters Lisane Basquiat and Jeanine Basquiat said in a statement, “Over the years, many people have approached us about telling our brother’s story on stage. But having discussed this project with the Marks over many months, our interest was piqued once we understood that their approach to telling our brother’s story treats his life, his art and his legacy with respect and passion. With Jon Batiste and John Doyle leading the creative team, we are thrilled with the possibilities. We cannot wait to begin the developmental process. Broadway is a new world for us, and we looking forward to sharing our brother’s life and art.”
Batiste, who is writing the music and lyrics, said, “I want people to leave this show inspired to create. I want them to not only learn about Jean Michel Basquiat, an innovator, but to also feel the visceral thrill of the creative process and to deepen and discover their own creativity. We have an opportunity to tell a truly profound story, full of emotional highs and lows, with unbelievable art at the center. I’m honored to work with veteran storyteller John Doyle, the Marks and the Basquiat family. We are assembling a team to help craft a boundary pushing masterpiece inspired by a true American original.”
Basquiat, who died at 27 in 1988, is widely considered among the greatest, and certainly most famous, artists of his generation. He was the subject of a 1996 biopic starring Jeffrey Wright in the title role, with David Bowie as Andy Warhol.
“I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to collaborate with Jon Batiste to bring to life the world of Jean-Michel Basquiat,” said director Doyle (Sweeney Todd, The Color Purple). “Exploring his 1980s New York City will help us access the connections Basquiat made through the extraordinary body of work he created in his short lifetime.”