The Oscar-nominated film ‘CODA’, in which a hearing child of deaf parents pursues a passion for singing, is being developed into a musical by Deaf West Theater, a highly regarded Los Angeles nonprofit with a strong track record in the field of music. field of musicals. theater.
The project, which does not yet have a creative team or production calendar, is a joint venture between the theater and two of the companies that produced the film, Vendôme Pictures and Pathé Films.
Written and directed by Sian Heder, “CODA” has been nominated for three Academy Awards, including Best Picture. The film is about a high school student who is torn between helping her family, who run a fishing boat, and pursuing a renewed interest in singing; she is the only hearing member of her family. (CODA is an acronym for child of deaf adult.)
“‘CODA’ is unique across the movie canon because it shows us in our natural environment: between the world at large and beneath our own, often at home or in private settings,” DJ Kurs, Deaf West’s Artistic Director , wrote in an email interview. “As a deaf person, I knew from the start that ‘CODA’ would be a perfect musical: it explores our relationship with music and how we move through the world of sound as immigrants in a foreign country, introducing new, seemingly random learn rules about the fly.”
Founded in 1991, Deaf West is the nation’s most prominent theater focusing on what it calls “Deaf-centered storytelling,” and productions are generally performed in both American Sign Language and English spoken by casts with deaf and hearing artists.
The theater has previously staged five musicals, including two revivals that were transferred to Broadway, “Big River” in 2003 and “Spring Awakening” in 2015. Both were nominated for Tony Awards. “CODA” would be the second musical created by the company; the first was “Sleeping Beauty Wakes Up” in 2007.
“Professional musical theater was largely inaccessible to our community until our production of ‘Big River’ was staged in larger homes in LA and NY,” Kurs wrote. “Now we have music theater enthusiasts in our community, and that’s great. I bet that the art form of signed music theater is still in its infancy.”
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One of the film’s producers, Philippe Rousselet, said the filmmakers had been approached about stage rights years ago, when they were working on 2014’s French precursor, “La Famille Bélier”. Rousselet, the founder, chairman and chief executive of Vendôme Group, said the producers chose to prioritize the American remake first, then, after forging a relationship with Deaf West, decided to partner with that company. working on what would become Vendôme’s. first phase project.
“It was an obvious choice for us to work with them to make the musical — they know what we don’t know, and we trust them,” Rousselet said. “It will be a new adventure for us. But I think it has everything – the characters, the music, the beautiful setting – to make a beautiful musical.”
There are many connections between “CODA” and Deaf West; three cast members from the film, including Oscar nominee Troy Kotsur, as well as Daniel Durant and Marlee Matlin, have appeared on the company’s shows.
Kurs said he hoped to stage an initial production of “CODA” within two years.