Ice Cube Is Co-Writing, Starring In A Genre-Crossing 'Oliver Twist' Musical

"Hamilton" director Thomas Kail is behind the project.
A still from Roman Polanski's "Oliver Twist."
A still from Roman Polanski's "Oliver Twist."

There was Jean Valjean. Then Alexander Hamilton. Now there’s Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist. Let’s face it ― Broadway has always had a thing for scrappy characters in period garb.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Ice Cube and “Hamilton” director Thomas Kail are working on a musical adaptation of Charles Dickens’ beloved novel Oliver Twist. And ― wait for it ― the modern take on an English classic will also be a genre-crossing production reportedly involving hip-hop. Sound familiar?

THR reported that Disney Studios is producing the theatrical take along with Cube Vision and production stalwart Marc Platt. Cube and Jeff Kwatinetz are writing the musical treatment.

Need an Oliver Twist refresh? Dickens’ frequently adapted 1830s novel tells the grim story of a child laborer named Oliver who, after being sold into apprenticeship with an undertaker, escapes into a world of street crime led by the petty thief Artful Dodger. Cube, who’s co-writing and starring in the musical adaptation, will play Fagin, the leader of Dodger’s crew of young pickpockets. 

We shouldn’t necessarily expect the musical version of Twist to feature the pickpockets, porridge and cap hats we know from Dickens’ original, though. (In fact, a Lionel Bart musical already did that.) If it’s a “modern” riff on Oliver and co., anything is possible.

If you remember, “Hamilton” ― the hip-hop sensation that’s smashed records and influenced Democratic National Convention speeches ― was almost set in modern times, too. In a previous interview with The Huffington Post, designer David Korins explained that, initially, the cast members were going to be in high-tops and jeans, singing and dancing on an all-black set with a metal catwalk.

“It was going to be a slick modern thing to match the language,” he said. Of course, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony Award–winning show didn’t end up being modern. It took place before and after the American Revolutionary War, muskets, cravats and all. 

We have reached out to Disney for comment on the production but have yet to hear back. There’s no date attached to the “Oliver Twist” musical per THR, so you have plenty of time to speculate on where and when the modern version of the story will take place. 

Editor’s Note: We successfully avoided making a joke about “Hamilton” fans who thanked Broadway but asked for another. You’re welcome.



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