A Broadway stage project based on the life of Ray Charles is in the works from producers Stuart Benjamin and Howard and Karen Baldwin, who produced the hit Charles biopic “Ray” starring Jamie Foxx.
The team has acquired dramatico-musical rights to the project from the Ray Charles estate and Ray Charles Enterprises. Universal Pictures and “Ray” director Taylor Hackford are not involved at this time.
The stage project will differ in scope and intent from the film. The play will span his entire career, allowing the producers to showcase Charles’ lifetime repertoire of music. It also will combine performances with dramatic vignettes that will tell stories of Charles’ business, political and charitable endeavors.
“This will be more of the warmth and the personality of Ray as well as some of the anecdotes and stories that weren’t in the movie,” Benjamin said. It also will be a more sanitized take on Charles, whose drug addictions and infidelities took center stage in the film.
“This will be a celebration of Ray, somebody I got to be very close to over the years, someone I respected and someone whose company I enjoyed,” Benjamin said. “What is really in my mind is to convey some of that. As was the movie, this is an enormous responsibility. We will take our time and make sure it’s done correctly.”
The Baldwins were producers on “Sahara” and are working on an untitled Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey biopic. Benjamin produced both soundtrack CDs, the television special “Genius: A Night for Ray Charles” and the “Ray” DVD.
A search for playwrights is now under way.