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'When We Were Kings' As A Stage Musical? Yes, Says Producer Of The Documentary

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by Tambay A. Obenson
June 4, 2012 9:44 AM
1 Comment
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Trying to picture this, but the image just isn't clear enough...

Producer David Sonenberg is reportedly developing a musical version of When We Were Kings, the Oscar-winning 1996 documentary about the so-called Rumble in the Jungle, the 1974 boxing match in Zaire between George Foreman and Muhammad Ali.

Sonenberg was the producer of the documentary, by the way.

"The story fuses music, sports, dance, politics, race and culture in a way that should appeal to a broad, pan-generational audience," he said, adding that the cast of this stage musical adaptation will include all the notable players who also appeared in the doc,, like Don King, James Brown, Norman Mailer, Mobutu Sese Seko and George Plimpton, and of course Ali and Foreman.

The musical's score will incorporate songs from the era, which were also featured in the movie, like tracks from James Brown, B.B. King, the Pointer Sisters and Bill Withers, as well as some even older music. 

Sonenberg says he plans to incorporate music into the story "in ways that are more naturalistic than in traditional musical-theater fare, while still ensuring that the songs are integrated into the emotion of the story."

He's shooting for an Off Broadway run (at least, at first) with the sow opening sometime in 2014, or even sooner.

Picture Ali floating like a butterfly and stinging like a beed while belting out a tune.

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1 Comment

  • Branden | June 4, 2012 1:12 PMReply

    Yeah...this isn't going to work. I don't know why writers are trying to turn these sports stories into theater pieces. They don't translate well. I think that the Sonenberg should look at Magic/Bird. That didn't do well and I predict that this piece won't either.

    Also, this idea of making the music more natural than traditional musical theater is quite arrogant. Sonenberg has a BA in theater but I don't think that qualifies him as an expert. If he was an expert his last show that he produced "Dance of The Vampires" wouldn't have been a FLOP. It ran for 56 performances which is terrible.

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