Broadway plans musicals on Bruce Lee, Mandela

LONDON: Stage musicals about the late martial arts star Bruce Lee and former South African President Nelson Mandela are to be made for Broadway.

Bruce Lee: Journey to the West, set for 2010 or 2011, will tell the story of the action hero’s rise to fame. Meanwhile, a separate musical about South Africa’s struggle for freedom from apartheid is planned for May 2010.

It will be based in part on a forthcoming memoir by Mandela’s daughter Zindzi. It will mix historical events with tales from Zindzi’s memoir about growing up in the apartheid era with her father in jail.

The struggle against apartheid was also the subject of 1988 Broadway musical Sarafina!, about the 1976 Soweto riots. That was made into a film starring Whoopi Goldberg in 1992.

The Bruce Lee musical will include martial arts, Chinese opera, modern dance and pop music as his character struggles to master his skills and forge a link to unite East and West.

A lead actor has yet to be chosen. Lee died in Hong Kong in 1973 at the age of 32, having suffered from a fatal swelling of the brain. He was loved for martial arts movies like Enter the Dragon.