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Disney's 'Othello'/'Cyrano de Bergerac' Musical Mash-Up Will Star David Oyelowo

By Tori Preston | Industry | September 25, 2017 |

By Tori Preston | Industry | September 25, 2017 |

Disney knows a good thing when they see it (after all, they snatched up the rights to Star Wars and the MCU, right?), and now they’re doubling down on this live-action musical trend — only somehow I don’t think their latest project is aimed at kids. Cyrano the Moor will combine Shakespeare’s tragedy Othello with the classic French play Cyrano de Bergerac. But, you know, with toe-tapping musical numbers or something.


David Oyelowo (Selma) is attached to star, with Moonlight playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney penning the film. Oyelowo will also produce alongside his wife, Jessica (who starred with her husband in 2016’s A United Kingdom). The talent associated with the film is rock-solid, even if the subject matter seems a bit more serious than what one would expect from a live-action musical from Disney. At first I had doubts as to how the two stories could even be combined, until I realized that I was basing my understanding of the Cyrano de Bergerac entirely on the lighthearted Steve Martin adaptation from the ’80s, Roxanne:


That movie had a happy ending. The original play? Not so much. What both stories have in common are themes of love and deceit: Othello, who is convinced that his new wife has been unfaithful because of the schemes of Iago, and Cyrano, who uses his panache and way with words to help another man woo the woman he loves. And both stories end in sadness: Othello kills Desdemona and then himself when he learns of her innocence, and Cyrano only wins the love of Roxane after she recognizes his words on his death bed. And then of course there is the most obvious point of comparison: the appearance of the main characters. Othello is set apart because of his race, while Cyrano… well, Cyrano just has a big nose. But he feels unloveable because of it, dammit! The Steve Martin movie got that part right.

And you know what? Maybe Disney WILL make this into a kid friendly mash-up. After all, The Little Mermaid originally ended in death too — and that still made for a classic kid’s cartoon. Also, it’s not like Disney doesn’t know how to handle a character like Iago…


Tori Preston is the managing editor of Pajiba. She tweets here. You can also listen to her weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

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