Kasi Lemmons ("Eve's Bayou") will write and direct the picture for a possible late 2009 release.
Vinnette Carroll directed the original Off-Broadway production in 1961. In 2007 Classical Theatre of Harlem revived it and snagged Drama Desk Award nominations for Distinguished Revival of a Musical and Andre de Shields as Outstanding Actor in a Musical.
The rousing musical (sometimes referred to as a "song-play") includes traditional gospel songs, verse, scripture and dance to bring the nativity tale to life. It is often revived regionally; a Boston production by the National Center of Afro-American Artists is the world's longest-running production at 39 consecutive seasons.
Celine Rattray, Galt Niederhoffer and Daniela Taplin Lundberg of Plum Pictures are producing the picture.
Hughes was the African-American poet, playwright, novelist and activist known for the famous poem "Harlem," which referred to "a dream deferred" drying up "like a raisin in the sun."