*A stage musical featuring the music of late rapper Tupac Shakur has been put on hold due to a lack of available theaters on Broadway.
Director Kenny Leon put together the project, titled Holler If Ya Hear Me, with the blessing of the rapper’s mother, Afeni Shakur. The producers have raised the funding, and Leon has workshopped the production three times. The show is ready for Broadway, Leon told the Wall Street Journal, but just needs a home because “there’s a backlog in available theaters.”
The non-biographical show features a love story set to the rapper’s songs, and Leon is adamant the musical’s anti-violence message will prove popular when it finally hits the stage.
“Some people look at hip-hop and they think they hate everything black or they think they hate everything that uses profanity, or they think it’s about gun violence,” Leon said, calling Tupac a “prophet.”
“When you look at the lyrics of his music, he was always talking about universal things like honor, betrayal, family,” Leon said. “He was just trying to talk about life and say something about the country and being an American and raising a family here.”
Leon is also full of praise for his multi-talented cast, adding, “We had to have a group of actors that could sing, that could rap, that could dance – that could do hip-hop dance as well as straightforward Broadway musical dance. We had to have a good mix of 24 people who could do it all, but above all we needed actors who could tell the story.”
*A developmental workshop is underway in New York City for Holler If Ya Hear Me, a new musical inspired by the work of Tupac Shakur, which is being targeted for Broadway. While no firm dates have been set for the long-gestating project, producers are aiming to premiere during the 2013-14 Broadway season.
The show will be directed by Kenny Leon, known for his Broadway work on plays including A Raisin in the Sun with Diddy; Fences, with Denzel Washington and Viola Davis; and The Mountaintop, with Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett.
A non-biographical original story, the show is set in the present day, on the inner-city streets of a Midwestern industrial city, chronicling the challenges faced by two childhood friends and their extended families. The story is inspired by and unfolds to the music of Shakur, the influential rapper who died in 1996 and has sold more than 75 million albums worldwide.
The musical has a book by Todd Kriedler and choreography by Tony Award winner Wayne Cilento (Wicked, The Who’s Tommy). The design team includes David Gallo (sets), Reggie Ray (costumes) and Mike Baldassari (lighting). Music supervision is by Daryl Waters, a veteran of such musicals as Bring in ‘Da Noise, Bring in ‘Da Funk, The Color Purple and Memphis.
Lead producers on the project are the late music superstar’s mother, Afeni Shakur, as well as Eric L. Gold, Chunsoo Shin and Jessica Green.
*Tupac Shakur was one of the best hip hop artists, arguably the best hip hop artist, that the world had ever seen.
For a long time, there were many conspiracy theories that he was living on an island in the Caribbean living like the elusive Makaveli pseudonym he assumed to write his last album.
Now another “fan” is putting together a musical that celebrates the work of the fallen rapper.