'Black Orpheus' Descending on Broadway

11:42 AM PST 07/07/2014 by David Rooney

Written by Lynn Nottage and directed by George C. Wolfe, the bossa nova-beat musical is based on the Oscar-winning 1959 screen retelling of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth set during Carnival in Rio.

NEW YORK — Black Orpheus, a new musical version of the Brazilian love story made famous in Marcel Camus' 1959 screen adaptation, which won an Oscar for best foreign-language film, will have its world premiere on Broadway.

While no timeline has been set for the project, Pulitzer-winning playwright Lynn Nottage is writing the book for the musical, with multiple Tony winner George C. Wolfe attached to direct.

Lead producers Stephen Byrd, Alia Jones-Harvey and Paula Marie Black announced the production on Monday, adding their good-luck wishes to Brazil's World Cup team in the semifinal match against Germany.

"We are so thrilled to bring this classic piece of Brazilian popular culture to life on stage," said Byrd, whose Broadway productions include racial makeovers of The Trip to Bountiful, A Streetcar Named Desire and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. "The World Cup is providing a wonderful international platform for Brazil right now, and we look forward to spotlighting this legacy on Broadway."

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The success of the movie version, which also won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival, helped popularize the bossa nova sound around the world. The stage show will feature a number of tunes heard in the film, including music by Antonio Carlos Jobim, Luiz Bonfa and Vinicius de Moraes.

Based on Moraes' play Orfeu de Conceicao, Black Orpheus resets the Greek legend of Eurydice and Orpheus against the backdrop of a Rio de Janeiro favela during Carnival.

In addition to her play about the plight of Congolese women, Ruined, which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2009, Nottage's works include Intimate Apparel; Fabulation, or the Re-Education of Undine; and By the Way, Meet Vera Stark.

Wolfe won Tony Awards for his direction of both parts of Angels in America, as well as Bring in 'Da Noise, Bring in 'Da Funk and Take Me Out. His most recent Broadway production was Nora Ephron's posthumously produced Lucky Guy, the 2013 hit that starred Tom Hanks.

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