Osar-winning screenwriter/playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney and Disney are collaborating on a musical project titled Cyrano the Moor, with David Oyelowo onboard as the intended star. McCraney picked up an Academy Award earlier this year for his work on the Best Picture Oscar-winning Moonlight, a film that was based on McCraney’s unpublished play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue (which McCraney helped filmmaker Barry Jenkins turn into a feature-length movie screenplay).
Cyrano the Moor, as its title implies, borrow elements from two classic plays – Edmond Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac and William Shakespeare’s Othello – and uses them to create an original musical narrative, set in the Bristol region of England circa the 1800s. How the rather adult stories of Cyrano de Bergerac (a comedy/drama about a talented poet and musician who is made extremely insecure by his enormous nose) and Othello (a tragedy about how noble general Othello is deceived and led to his doom by the jealous Iago) will be blended together in a manner fit to be released under the Disney company’s family-friendly banner, remains to be seen.
Deadline reports that McCraney was brought onboard to write Cyrano the Moor after Disney purchased the idea from Oyelowo’s development team, with the intention of Oyelowo headlining the project. Additional story details for the movie have yet to be revealed, but the film is being envisioned as a “lavish” live-action musical in the vein of director Bill Condon’s smash hit Beauty and the Beast, among other hits musicals released by the Mouse House over the years (think also Into the Woods).
Oyelowo, as it were, is coming off an acclaimed run as Othello‘s namesake in a limited off-Broadway production of the play at the New York Theatre Workshop (opposite Daniel Craig as Iago). The classically-trained English actor already has an established working relationship with the Mouse House; he previously starred in the studio’s acclaimed true story-inspired chess drama Queen of Katwe and is currently lending his voice to two Disney animated TV shows: The Lion King-inspired The Lion Guard (where he voices Scar) and Star Wars Rebels (where he voices Agent Kallus).
Both Oyelowo and McCraney have long and decorated histories in theater, making their collaboration on Cyrano the Moor – a project that appears to be steeped in theater history and tradition – all the more intriguing, right off the bat. Oyelowo has openly made it his mission to promote inclusivity through his film and TV projects and him having a hand in bringing McCraney onboard for a Disney musical is a further testament to his commitment to achieving that goal.
Cyrano the Moor, by the look of it, is still in early development and has yet to land a director, so it might be some time before we get another significant update on its progress. In the meantime, you can hear Oyelowo back as the voice of Kallus in Star Wars Rebels season 4 (which premieres on Disney XD in October) and also see him in such upcoming movies as Cloverfield 3 (aka. God Particle) and Doug Liman’s Chaos Walking novel adaptation.
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