“Hold my cane!” The Five Heartbeats are returning and going to Broadway!
By: Alexia McKay
“Can’t nobody sang like Eddie King Jr.!” There are so many classic lines to this 1991 movie and now 25 years later, the movie has a opportunity to entice a new generation of fans. According to Deadline, the film released by 21st Century Fox will soon be making Broadway a “house for love”.
Townsend is in negotiations with a Broadway producer and the play version is being written by Kennen Ivory Wayans, who was his original partner on the movie script. He says the play will “tell a similar story with music that people know from the movie, but there is a composer, Grammy-Award winner, a guy who has won some big awards who already said he will write an original song for us.”
Reportedly inspired by The Temptations, The Five Heartbeats tells the story of a 1960’s R&B group in Detroit during the early days of Motown. It encompasses their rise and fall, trials and tribulations, tragedy and scandals; pretty much every category that makes a successful musical group. The original movie won the 1992 ASAP award for Most Performed Songs from Motion Pictures and grossed $8.75M at the box office.
Right now, the award-winning actor and director is promoting his documentary, Making the Five Heartbeats. The documentary shows viewers the ins and outs of making the movie; including exclusive footage showing a younger Niecy Nash, Don Cheadle and Jussie Smollett, standing in line at open call auditions, trying to get their big break in Townsend’s film. The documentary also digs into the challenges Townsend faced while trying to promote and acquire funds for the movie at a time when there was not a huge Black audience in Hollywood.
“This documentary is my journey to make a classic, but without faith and a whole lot of perseverance,” Townsend wrote in an Instagram caption.
Watch the trailer below:
The documentary is currently screening in New York and Los Angeles, in hopes of qualifying for an Academy Award. Townsend has been heavily promoting the project on his Instagram page.
“I’m not sure what we were doing to make #HaroldNicholas so mad in this picture,” he commented about one of the screens in the movie, “but #TheFiveHeartbeats definitely brought out his Sarge side. I’ll admit I wasn’t sure if Harold Nicholas was right to play Sarge when we first met, but he soon convinced me that I was dead wrong!
Harlem World shared the following commentary:
While the movie is based on the pure inspiration of one of The Temptations, Robert Townsend and Keenan Ivory Wayans bring a group of men together with the hopes of writing our own stories while at the same time empowering black men, building a brotherhood and employing Afro -Americans in film. While pain, jealousy, distrust, favoritism, and love are brought to life in a manner which not only saddens your soul, you are entertained and inspired at the same time. While you patiently await the turning point of each scene, you are reminded that “A Heart is a House For Love”.
As a sincere and passionate movie director, writer, producer, actor, comedian, and television network CEO, Mr. Townsend has done and seen it all when it comes to film and entertainment, but his love for black culture, family and their stories has been his focus in all aspects of his career. The making of The Five Heartbeats narrative is not far off from the actual film. As realism takes center stage, chaos, pandemonium and plain old mayhem come to light in a manner which is quite close to the original film.
The Five Heartbeats is definitely one of those movies every person of color has seen and if they have not, immediately revoke their black card. Every time it comes on BET, VH1 or any other cable network, we can’t help but to be glued to our TV and watch it like we never seen it before. We cannot wait to see this classic black cinema play out on the musical stage.
By Alexia McKay