A 'Hidden Figures' Stage Musical Is In The Works

by Kristine Cannon
Hidden Figures
Fox 2000 Pictures

The stage musical adaptation of the Oscar-nominated film will reportedly tap the talents of Black artists

Whether you read the Hidden Figures book or watched the 2016 Oscar-nominated film, there’s no denying the impact Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson had at NASA — and on girls and young women everywhere. And soon, the story of these three brilliant Black female mathematicians will hit the stage — in a musical adaptation of the hit film.

According to the New York Times, the stage musical adaptation of Hidden Figures has been in the works since 2018. Film critic Elvis Mitchell serves as creative consultant.

Deadline reports that news of the musical is confirmed by Disney Theatrical Productions, the biggest company producing on Broadway; and Disney plans to assemble a team of Black artists to work on the production. Other details about the musical, however — like casting, target dates, and the rest of the creative team — are yet to be determined.

Released by 20th Century Fox, which Disney acquired last year, the Hidden Figures film is loosely based on the book by Margot Lee Shetterly and tells the story of three Black NASA mathematicians in the ’60s played by Taraji P. Henson (Katherine Johnson), Octavia Spencer (Dorothy Vaughan) and Janelle Monáe (Mary Jackson). The film was not only nominated for three Oscars in 2017 — Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Picture, and Best Supporting Actress (Spencer) — but it was also well-received and embraced by film critics and viewers alike, garnering positive reviews and grossing $236 million worldwide.

Since the release of the film and leading up to news of the musical, NASA named its headquarters building in Washington, D.C. after Jackson, the first African American female engineer at NASA who worked in the segregated West Area Computing Unit of the agency’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.

“We are honored that NASA continues to celebrate the legacy of our mother and grandmother Mary W. Jackson,” Carolyn Lewis, Mary’s daughter, told NASA. “She was a scientist, humanitarian, wife, mother, and trailblazer who paved the way for thousands of others to succeed, not only at NASA, but throughout this nation.”

NASA named the building Mary W. Jackson NASA Headquarters.

“It appropriately sits on ‘Hidden Figures Way,’ a reminder that Mary is one of many incredible and talented professionals in NASA’s history who contributed to this agency’s success. Hidden no more, we will continue to recognize the contributions of women, African Americans, and people of all backgrounds who have made NASA’s successful history of exploration possible,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a press release.