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Will Eisner’s A CONTRACT WITH GOD to become a Broadway Musical

The just-announced graphic novel adaptation already boasts a music and song writing team of Jewish talent

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Today it was announced that Vivek Tiwary‘s Tiwary Entertainment Group (TEG+) will be adapting Will Eisner’s seminal graphic novel A Contract With God into a Broadway musical.

According to Variety, who broke the story,

“TEG+ has acquired the stage rights to Will Eisner’s graphic novel A Contract With God and is adapting it into a Broadway musical, with new and original songs written by Sam Hollander, Lisa Loeb, Matisyahu, Ryan Miller and Jill Sobule.”

Will Eisner’s A Contract With God is considered by many as the first graphic novel – or at least the first comic openly marketed as one. Published in 1978, A Contract With God And Other Tenement Stories is set in a New York tenement block of poor Jewish residents with their own interweaving stories. While fictional, the setting and stories may well draw on Eisner’s own upbringing as a child of Jewish immigrant parents in the early twentieth century. Will Eisner passed away in 2005.

All of the song-writing team on the Contract with God musical are Jewish musicians, composers and songwriters, and writing and recording sessions are apparently set to begin soon – however the book writer (the person who scripts the show and would work in concert with the song writing team) has, reportedly, yet to be secured.

The music producer leading the team is Sam Hollander who is a prolific songwriter and has a shopping list of collaborations that have him as writer/producer on over 20 US Top 40 Pop Hits. He had previously the music producer of 2012 NBC musical drama TV show Smash, and more recently as songwriter and music producer on NBC’s Ordinary Joe.

On joining the project Hollander said,

“When Vivek [Tiwary] sent me Will Eisner’s A Contract With God, I was instantly floored. Getting the chance to bring this seminal graphic novel to the stage in collaboration with an iconic crew of my talented Jewish pals is just the greatest thrill ever. It’s an amazing way for us all to honor our heritage while bringing this story of the 1930’s New York immigrant struggle to a new audience.”

One curious member of the outfit will be the inclusion of Matisyahu, a (former-Hasidic) Jewish-American rapper, reggae singer, beatboxer and alt rock musician best known for 2005 single King Without A Crown. Prior to his involvement with A Contract With God he has not been known to have worked in musical theatre.

The TEG+ focuses on, according to a Deadline article, “high-profile original music and premier established music catalogs, A-list musicians and composers — creating narrative entertainment for all forms of media and technology including stage, film, TV, NFTs and more.” It was founded by producer Vivek J. Tiwary who has been a part of acclaimed and award winning productions such as Jagged Little Pill (based on Alanis Morissette’s album of the same name). Tiwary was also the writer of 2013 graphic novel The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story with artist Andrew Robinson and cartoonist Kyle Baker. The Fifth Beatle is being adapted to TV with Tiwary as writer and executive producer.

Tiwary, on bringing A Contract With God to the Broadway stage,

“For me, A Contract With God was a formative ground zero for all my creative work. I never met Will Eisner, and still he is one of the great mentors of my life. Like Will, I was born in New York City, a child of immigrants who grew up surrounded by immigrant dreams, both beautiful and frustrating. A Contract with God helped me understand both New York City and myself. I’m thrilled to now work alongside this group of top-notch inspiring Jewish musicians to bring a stage production of A Contract with God to both fans of the graphic novel and to inspire new audiences.”

Other graphic novels and comics adapted from page to stage include 1977’s Annie (based on the 1924 Little Orphan Annie comic strip by Harold Gray) and, more recently, Alison Bechdel‘s Fun Home, which had its off-Broadway debut in 2013 before making the Broadway leap in 2015 to much acclaim and multiple Tony Award nominations and wins, including Best Musical, Best Original Score, Best Book, and Best Direction.

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