Theater News

New Version of Black Orpheus Headed to Stage

Charles Möeller and Claudio Botelho
Charles Möeller and Claudio Botelho
© Robert Schwenck

Brazil-based writers/directors Charles Möeller and Claudio Botelho and Broadway producer Stephen Byrd have announced plans to bring a new version of the Oscar-winning 1959 film Black Orpheus to the stage, with a possible premiere in London’s West End during the 2013-2014 season, with a Broadway run to follow. No director has been named.

The musical, which is loosely based on the Greek legend of Orpheus and Eurydice, is set in Rio de Janiero’s favelas [slum cities] against the backdrop of Rio’s Carnaval, and will feature a bilingual script.

“We intend to mix English and Portuguese along the lines of what the recent revival of West Side Story did by mixing English and Spanish,” says co-producer Alia Jones-Harvey.

In addition to the songs, “A Felicidade,” “Manhã de Carnaval,” and “Samba of Orpheus” from the film, Möeller says other Brazialin songs, many by Antonio Carlos Jobim, will be incorporated into the musical. Audiences should also expect to hear the tune “Someone to Light Up My Life,” which was used in the 1956 stage version, Orfeu da Conceição.

Byrd presented last season’s multiracial version of A Streetcar Named Desire on Broadway, as well as the 2008 Broadway revival of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, featuring an African American cast led by Anika Noni Rose, Terrence Howard, James Earl Jones, and Phylicia Rashad.

Botelho and Möeller have translated many shows into Portuguese, including Company, Gypsy, Spring Awakening, Fiddler on the Roof, and Hair, and presented them in Brazil.

“We come to New York at least twice a year to catch as many shows as possible and have a wonderful working relationship with many producers here,” says Möeller. “But to actually have a show of our own on Broadway, well, that would be a dream come true.”