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'Ray' Tuning up for Broadway Stage

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Get ready for "Ray" the musical.

"Ray" producers Stuart Benjamin and Howard and Karen Baldwin are reteaming to bring a Ray Charles stage project to Broadway.

The producers have 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 phenomenal success of 'Ray' speaks to just how deeply Ray Charles' work touched the world, and, just as in the genius' performing career, people have been clamoring for more," Baldwin said in a statement. "The stage is a natural home for this material, and our collaborators are top-notch."

Benjamin and the Baldwins will serve as producers on the play though their Benjamin Prods. and Baldwin Entertainment Group, respectively, with Joe Adams, Charles' longtime manager and confidante.

A search for playwrights is now under way.

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.

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