David Sonenberg, producer of the Oscar-winning 1996 doc When We Were Kings, is developing a musical based on the film that chronicled 1974’s famous Rumble in the Jungle boxing match in Zaire between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman.
A workshop for the musical is planned for the spring, Sonenberg announced today, with the intent of a full stage production the following year. The book for the musical, adapted from the film, is written by Shelley Marcus. The songs used are R&B classics from the 1974 Zaire music festival (except for The Fugees’ “Rumble In The Jungle,” which was written for the documentary).
The musical is expected to include portrayals of musicians who performed at the Zaire music fest just before the fight. Portrayals will include James Brown, B.B. King, The Pointer Sisters, The Spinners, Bill Withers, Celia Cruz, and The Fania All Stars.
“The details of Ali’s life are as relevant today as they were 45 years ago,” said Sonenberg (Broadway’s Dance of the Vampires) in his announcement of the workshop. “Ali’s story, as depicted in When We Were Kings fuses sports, music, dance, politics, race and culture in a way that should be compelling to a broad global audience.”