Ruben Santiago-Hudson Directing The Ten, Musical From Future Cut, Emily Phillips, Nambi E. Kelley (EXCLUSIVE)

Producers Ken Davenport and Primary Wave Music are developing “The Ten,” a new musical project that will feature music and lyrics by the Grammy Award-nominated team Future Cut (Tunde Babalola and Darren Lewis), and Emily Phillips. The show will draw on a wide range of musical influences including hip-hop, bluegrass, R&B, soul, and the blues. It will feature a book by Nambi E. Kelley and will be directed by Tony Award-winner Ruben Santiago-Hudson. Sandi Moran will also serve as producer on “The Ten.” A reading is planned for early 2023.

In a statement, Santiago-Hudson said the show is “…loosely based on the story of Moses and The Ten Commandments [and] set in our current times.” He went on to predict that the finished product “…will wonderfully alter what our ideas of what a modern musical can be. So be prepared for a thrilling ride.”

 “I’m incredibly excited to be diving into the development of this fascinating new musical, ‘The Ten,’ with an amazingly talented group of artists,” Santiago-Hudson added. “Writers Nambi E. Kelly and Emily Phillips with composers Darren Lewis and Tunde Babalola of Future Cut bring a wonderful marriage of power and poetry through story and songs that will literally lift you out of your seats. 

“I am thrilled to be working with Ken Davenport, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Future Cut, and Emily Phillips on our reimagination of the Moses story through the lens of a Black woman,” said Kelley. “As a Black woman, I’m excited to put our perspective at the center of this epic narrative to theatricalize how Black women are truly the catalyst for change across the world and through time.”

A first listen of the demo track “Ten (Prologue)” from the new musical project can be found here. The show’s creators say that despite the production’s biblical origins, their story is a secular one, that focuses on emancipation, justice, and the role contemporary gospel music can play as a force for freedom, expression, and enlightenment.

“It took me all of 15 seconds of hearing one track from ‘The Ten’ by Future Cut and Emily Phillips to say, ‘This. I want to produce this.’ Their music is a sound I haven’t heard before on Broadway, and I am so thankful that Primary Wave introduced me to this incredible songwriting team. And with Nambi Kelley and Ruben Santiago Hudson on board, well, I know we’ll have a type of musical that we haven’t seen before on Broadway . . . but that we desperately need”, said Davenport.

Babalola and Lewis got their start in the U.K.’s underground club scene and have become curators of some of the pop world’s biggest hits. They co-wrote Lily’s Allen’s “Smile,” and also worked with the likes of Rihanna, Dua Lipa, Tom Jones, Shakira, MIA, and Lil Mix.

Phillips has collaborated with artists like Florence and the Machine, Sigrid and Big Time Rush. She has just finished co-writing Dan Owens’ second album, and has penned Megan McKenna’s first two singles for her country project. She is also co-writing Rizzle Kicks’ third album.

Kelly has served as a writer and co-producer on “Bel Air,” “Lady in the Lake,”“Our Kind of People” and “The Chi.”

Santiago-Hudson most recently directed the Broadway productions of “Skeleton Crew” by Dominique Morisseau, which received four Tony nominations including Outstanding New Play, as well as his own autobiographical “Lackawanna Blues,” for which he received a Tony Award nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor. His Broadway production of “Jitney” nabbed the Tony Award for best revival and six Tony nominations. Santiago-Hudson received a Tony Award as featured actor for his performance in August Wilson’s “Seven Guitars.” He currently co-stars in the new CBS drama “East New York.”

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