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'Topdog' writer for Charles

August 10, 2005|Lynne Heffley

Producers of the Oscar-winning film "Ray" have tapped Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks for their Ray Charles stage project.

Parks, who won the Pulitzer for her 2002 Broadway play, "Topdog/Underdog," was first choice to pen the stage version of Charles' life and music, according to Stuart Benjamin of Benjamin Productions and Howard and Karen Baldwin of Baldwin Entertainment Group.

"She's a brilliant writer," Benjamin said Tuesday. "You read ['Topdog/Underdog'] and the way the words flow, the way the play flows, to be able to use somebody of that talent to write about Ray Charles was a no-brainer."

Benjamin and the Baldwins acquired dramatic-musical rights from the Ray Charles Estate and Ray Charles Enterprises; they will produce the play with Charles' longtime manager, Joe Adams.

They hope to mount the production regionally in the spring of 2006 before going to New York later that year, Benjamin said.

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