Robert Townsend’s 1991 film The Five Heartbeats will soon make its way to Broadway.
Townsend, the writer and director of the 20th Century Fox flick, told Deadline that the musical based on the trials and tribulations of a Motown-inspired singing group will “tell a similar story with music that people know from the movie, but there is a composer, Grammy-Award winner, a guy who has won some big awards who already said he will write an original song for us.”
The director is in negotiations with a Broadway producer and is teaming up with former writing partner Keenan Ivory Wayans to pen the stage play. Townsend and Wayans previously worked on the original film as well as 1987’s Hollywood Shuffle.
Townsend spoke with EBONY for the 25th anniversary of The Five Heartbeats film two years ago, sharing what inspired him to make the cult classic.
“The Temptations broke up. I just remember, as a little kid I remember, like, ‘What happened there?’ And it just stayed in my soul. But then there were a lot of negative images of Black men on television and in the movies. All these pimps, hustlers and thieves. I said, ‘The Trojan horse will be, I’m going to show you five different men of color. And they’re going to be all different so you’re going to see this spectrum. And some you will like more than others, but you’re going to see a whole world…’ I wanted to show Black men differently.”
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Born and raised in Compton, California, Jessica Bennett began her career as an intern at The Oakland Post, and later, The Source Magazine. She went on to write for respected hip hop publications such as DJ Booth and Hip Hop DX before becoming the Urban Editor of pop culture website, Wetpaint.com. She joined Ebony as the Entertainment Editor August 2017. Bennett has interviewed such names as Vanessa Williams, Spike Lee, Tyra Banks, Forest Whitaker, Magic & Cookie Johnson and several others.