Monday, June 30, 2014

TUPAC MUSICAL HITS BROADWAY: "HOLLER IF YOU HEAR ME"


A musical inspired by the rap tunes of the late Tupac Shakur opened on Broadway’s Palace Theatre June 26. Does the raucous, N-word riddled hip-hop spectacular live up to the hype?

The producer of "Holler If Ya Hear Me," the Broadway musical based on Tupac Shakur's lyrics, has denied rumors that the show would be closing this Sunday due to low ticket sales.

Early on June 26, the New York Post quoted production sources as saying the musical would close slightly over a week after its opening at the Palace Theater on June 19 due to low ticket sales and critics' tepid reviews. "If we were going to close this Sunday, we would have had to post a closing notice last Monday, because there's all these union rules between the cast, and the company, and the theater, and all of that," says Jessica Green, co-lead producer with Eric L. Gold of "Holler If Ya Hear Me."

Though she acknowledges that ticket sales have gotten off to a slow start ($170,000 in its opening week, something the Post and Green can agree on), Green is optimistic. "We are increasing every week, we are getting in new audiences that have never gone to Broadway before. There's a little bit longer of an acclimation period, let's say, between education and actually coming out."


Written by Todd Kreidler and directed by Kenny Leon who also helmed this spring's successful Broadway production of Lorraine Hansberry's "A Raisin in the Sun" starring Denzel Washington "Holler If Ya Hear Me" is not biographical; rather, it revolves around an inner city struggle based on the words and imagery of Tupac's lyrics.

But plot is really secondary when it comes to Broadway musicals; it’s mostly about the musical numbers and sets. And Holler If Ya Hear Me boasts some very fun redecorated Tupac tunes. There’s an “I Get Around”/“Keep Ya Head Up” playground back-and-forth, with Darius and the fellas adopting the ode to lasciviousness and Corinne and the ladies crooning the female empowerment anthem—two songs that feature three tracks apart on Tupac’s sophomore LP Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z. and do a fine job of representing the rapper’s intriguing wealth of contradictions. And the N.I.G.G.A.Z. in that album title is, of course, an acronym standing for Never Ignorant Getting Goals Accomplished, with the “Z” pluralizing it—yet another example of ‘Pac’s layered messaging.

“My goal is to create a new play that everyone feels is speaking to them,” Leon told Entertainment Weekly. “Not to get too corny, but this is the beginning of a sort of theatrical revolution, and after this, I hope that many young people in our country will think that Broadway is the place for them to tell their stories. I think there are a lot of diverse voices in our country who need to tell their stories on a raised stage in New York City.”

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