“ALI,” a musical about civil rights activist and former heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali, is now being produced for Broadway. Deadline revealed that the musical may premiere around November 2024. Clint Dyer, deputy artistic director of London’s National Theatre; Teddy Abrams, music director of the Louisville Orchestra; and producer Richard Willis made the announcement. Dyer will be directing the play and will also write the libretto. Meanwhile, Teddy Abrams will be writing the music and score for the play.
In order to fully focus on the African American perspective of the tale (Willis and Abrams are white, and Dyer is Black), they also intend to add more Black voices to the creative team. “I’m aware that there’s an African American component that is missing, but there will be many voices,” Dyer told Deadline. The current team may onboard a Black artist who will work with Dyer as a co-lyricist, plus another Black choreographer.
“It helped everybody understand the past by him changing his Cassius Clay slave name. He had to move forward, for his future was based in him recognizing his slave history and deciding not to be defined by it. You’ve got to remember he was one of the most famous men in the world called Cassius Clay, and you decide to change your name. There’s a beauty in his defiance,” Dyer describes how he would describe Muhammad Ali.
Abrams also revealed his vision for the play’s music. “In my mind, Ali is like an orchestra that has all the variations and the subtlety of the instrumentation that’s available to you,” he told Deadline. “It’s not just a tune played by a trumpet with a rhythm guitar in the background; it’s got to be much more dynamic and subtle and complex than that. The score has to have backbone, Right? And sensitivity, too. It’s not just the ‘Rocky’ theme.”