A stage musical adaptation of The Queen’s Gambit, Walter Tevis’ best-selling novel which became a hit series on Netflix, is in the works, with Oscar-nominated singer-songwriter Mitski attached to write the music & lyrics, playwright Eboni Booth (Primary Trust) writing the book and Obie Award-winner Whitney White (Jaja’s African Hair Braiding) set to direct.
The project was announced today by producers Level Forward (POTUS, How to Dance in Ohio), Tony-winning Tina star Adrienne Warren, Lawryn LaCroix (POTUS, Mike Birbiglia: The Old Man & The Pool), and Tony Award-winning producer Mara Isaacs (Hadestown).
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“Before Level Forward even brought the idea of making a musical of The Queen’s Gambit, I was a fan of the Netflix show, and an even greater fan of the original novel,” said Mitski in a statement. “So I was already determined to be a member of this team. And then I met Eboni and Whitney, and my determination grew tenfold! I absolutely had to be a part of this! I am ecstatic to get to work with all of these amazing creatives, who’ve each built beautiful and unique repertoires of their own.”
“The Queen’s Gambit is a wholly original story about yearning for connection and finding your way in life, no matter the barriers,” said book writer Booth. “I couldn’t be more thrilled to explore this world in the company of such extraordinary artists. Musicals are one of my first loves, and I feel so lucky to be tasked with the challenge of bringing Beth Harmon’s haunting and inspiring journey to the stage.”
Said White, “Everyone has desires, hopes, aspirations, and ideas about who they are and what they can offer the world. The Queen’s Gambit takes us into a story of a brilliant young woman on the hunt for all these things. It is a story that feels like mine and I’m excited to be a part of this exceptional team creating it anew for the stage.”
In a joint statement, the producers add, “The Queen’s Gambit connects us all in the universal pursuit of becoming the person we are meant to be. Part of our journey is to bring this beloved story to the musical stage, and provide three revelatory artists – Mitski, Eboni Booth, and Whitney White, all at the top of their craft – with a chance to share the captivating world of Beth Harmon with live audiences.”
The Queen’s Gambit tells the story of orphan turned chess prodigy Beth Harmon. The official synopsis states, “As soon as she touches a pawn, her senses grow sharper, her thinking clearer, and for the first time in her life she feels herself fully in control. By the age of sixteen, she’s competing for the U.S. Open championship.”
Tevis’ novel was published in 1983 to critical acclaim, quickly becoming a best-seller. Netflix’s 2020 miniseries of the same name became the streamer’s most-watched scripted miniseries, with more than 62 million viewers in the first month alone.
Details about the musical’s world premiere production will be announced at a later date.
Mitski, whose acclaimed, foreboding style fuses pop and orchestral instrumentation, has recorded and released seven albums from her 2016 Puberty 2 to this year’s The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We. Her stage show, which combines music, drama and dance, has sold out venues across the globe including multiple nights at New York’s Radio City Music Hall. Every show of her forthcoming 2024 tour is sold out.
Booth’s plays include Primary Trust (staged by Roundabout Theatre Company) and Paris (Atlantic Theater). For television, she has written for HBO Max’s Julia, and as an actor she has appeared in productions at Playwrights Horizons, Lincoln Center Theater’s LCT3, Manhattan Theater Club, Ars Nova, WP Theater, Page 73, Soho Rep., Clubbed Thumb, and more. She is a resident playwright at New Dramatists.
White directed the Manhattan Theatre Club’s current Broadway production Jaja’s African Hair Braiding, as well as stagings of The Secret Life of Bees, Soft, On Sugarland, What to Send Up When it Goes Down, The Amen Corner, Semblance and others. She was also a writer on Boots Riley’s Amazon Prime comedy I’m A Virgo.
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