EXCLUSIVE: A new musical stage adaptation of the Oscar-winning 1959 film Black Orpheus is being readied for a Broadway premiere next season, producers said today. The production will feature a book by Pulitzer Prize winner Nilo Cruz, original music by Brazilian music icon Sergio Mendes, and direction and choreography by Sergio Trujillo, the Tony-winning choreographer of Ain’t Too Proud.
In addition to winning both the Cannes Palme d’Or and the 1959 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, the 1959 film directed by Marcel Camus based on a play by Vinicius de Moraes played a seminal role in launching the international popularity of Bossa Nova music. The stage adaptation will feature both new, original music by Mendes and selections from the beloved movie score by Antonio Carlos Jobim, Luiz Bonfa and Vinicius de Moraes.
In a statement, producers Stephen Byrd and Alia Jones-Harvey said, “It is our privilege to ready Black Orpheus for the Broadway stage alongside this incredible creative team. America has never been the same since the new wave of Brazilian music came north and washed over us, and we are especially honored to be collaborating with Sergio Mendes who is one of the main architects of Brazilian pop, and whose musical genius will fit right at home on Broadway – at long last, and especially at a time when we will be welcoming the world back to New York City, with open arms.”
Based on Moraes’ play Orfeu de Conceição, Black Orpheus places the classic Greek love story of Eurydice and Orfeu against the modern backdrop of a Rio de Janeiro town during Carnival.
The producers are targeting a world premiere production on Broadway during the 2022-2023 season, with a developmental workshop to be followed by an out-of-town pre-Broadway regional theater run.
Cruz, who will write the book, is the Cuban-American playwright who won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2003 for his play Anna in the Tropics. Known for melding magic realism and various other literary traditions into his works, Cruz has written such plays as A Park in Our House, Two Sisters and a Piano, A Bicycle Country and others.
Bossa nova pioneer Mendes is the Latin-pop icon whose six-decade career includes his massively successful group of the 1960s Brasil ’66 and the Oscar-nominated 2012 “Real In Rio,” his co-written theme song from the animated film Rio. His most recent album, 2020’s In the Key of Joy, was released to coincide with John Scheinfeld’s documentary about the musician, Sergio Mendes: In The Key of Joy.
Black Orpheus will mark the Grammy-winning Mendes’ Broadway debut.
Trujillo, who will direct and choreograph Black Orpheus, won the 2019 Tony Award for his choreography for Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of The Temptations. Additional Broadway credits include On Your Feet!, Memphis the Musical, Summer: The Donna Summer Musical and Next to Normal, among others, and his TV credits include the recent Annie Live for NBC
Casting and a production timeline for Black Orpheus were not announced, with additional details forthcoming.
Must Read Stories
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.