NEW YORK – “CODA," the Oscar-nominated film about a singing teenage daughter in a deaf family, is being developed as a stage musical by the Los Angeles-based Deaf West Theatre.
The project was announced Wednesday by the film’s producers, Vendôme Pictures and Pathé Films, ahead of Sunday’s Academy Awards where “CODA” is in contention for best picture. Sian Heder's “CODA,” which was acquired for $25 million by Apple TV+ after its Sundance Film Festival debut, was adapted from a 2014 French film.
That 2014 film, "La Famille Bélier," didn't star deaf actors as the parents, but “CODA” has drawn widespread praise for its authenticity. The cast includes Marlee Matlin, Daniel Durant and the Oscar-nominated Troy Kotsur.
“This is an opportunity, then, to bring the story full circle by bringing it back to members of the Deaf community and by making the music accessible through our signed and sung live adaptation of the movie,” said DJ Kurs, artistic director of Deaf West Theatre, in a statement. "It is in the mission of our organization to be the artistic bridge between the Deaf and hearing communities and we are truly excited and honored to embark on this live iteration of a story that brings together both sides of the aisle and addresses the ways that we move throughout the world.”
No timeline for the production has yet been announced. Matlin, Kotsur and Durant have all previously performed at Deaf West, an acclaimed non-profit theater founded in 1991 that features deaf and hearing actors in productions performed in both sign language and spoken English. Several previous Deaf West musical productions, including “Big River” and “Spring Awakening," have made it to Broadway.
Kotsur, in particular, has been a mainstay on Deaf West stages. Beginning with “Of Mice and Men” in 1994, he's acted in some 20 productions with the theater company, including “Cyrano,” “American Buffalo” and “A Streetcar Named Desire.”