Producer of Ray Charles Musical Is Suing Primary Investor

News   Producer of Ray Charles Musical Is Suing Primary Investor
Producer Stuart Benjamin, who is aiming the biographical Unchain My Heart, the Ray Charles Musical toward Broadway, has filed suit against his primary investor, Maurice Grant, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Benjamin, an Academy Award-nominated producer for the film "Ray," about the blues and jazz singer Ray Charles, says in a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court that primary investor Maurice Grant pledged $9 million for the new Broadway musical. The suit claims that Grant failed to make good on the promise.

Benjamin is suing for fraud, deceit, and breach of fiduciary duty, according to the trade paper. He's asking for $20 million in damages, claiming that Grant told him to turn other investors away.

Unchain My Heart premiered at the Pasadena Playhouse in 2007 under the title Ray Charles Live!

A fall 2010 Broadway launch was announced for Unchain My Heart, but in July 2010 the producer bumped the production to spring 2011 at a Shubert theatre to be announced. Logistical reasons were cited for the delay.

Directed by Sheldon Epps, Unchain My Heart will feature the music of the late Ray Charles and a book by Suzan-Lori Parks (Topdog/Underdog). According to the last announcement of the show, the cast is to feature Brandon Victor Dixon as Ray Charles and Nikki Renée Daniels as Della with Harrison White as Jeff Brown and Tasha Taylor as Margie Hendricks.

The new musical "explores the strength, humor and musical genius of the legendary Ray Charles. One of the greatest pioneering musical artists of all time, Ray Charles mastered everything from soul and rhythm & blues to gospel, jazz, country and pop. Set in his last live recording session, Unchain My Heart reveals Charles' remarkable life story through his music."

Brandon Victor Dixon at the keys in <i>Ray Charles Live!</i>
Brandon Victor Dixon at the keys in Ray Charles Live! Photo by Craig Schwartz
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