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Kenny Leon's Tupac Musical Is Still Alive - Another Workshop To Be Held This Summer

Photo of Tambay A. Obenson By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act April 11, 2013 at 1:05PM

A film based on the late rapper/actor's life is still in Limbo (Antoine Fuqua was to direct it, and even began the casting process 2 springs ago, but nothing came from that, and Fuqua left the project; John Singleton then was said to have taken over for Fuqua, but then he left the project as well); but a Tupac Shakur Broadway musical is indeed in the works with Kenny Leon (maybe the most popular black director working on Broadway right now; although there aren't exactly many of them) helming.
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Tupac Shakur
Tupac Shakur

A film based on the late rapper/actor's life is still in Limbo (Antoine Fuqua was to direct it, and even began the casting process 2 springs ago, but nothing came from that, and Fuqua left the project; John Singleton then was said to have taken over for Fuqua, but then he left the project as well); but a Tupac Shakur Broadway musical is indeed in the works with Kenny Leon (maybe the most popular black director working on Broadway right now; although there aren't exactly many of them) helming.

Recapping the details...

It'll be titled Holler If Ya Hear Me, the title of a track from 2Pac's second solo album, Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z.

Director Leon first mentioned the project 2 years ago, while doing press for The Mountaintop (Katori Hall's award-winning play), stating:

"The idea was always to make a musical inspired by his music and not to do an autobiographical approach to his life or anything like that... And because I always thought that Tupac was a prophet and I thought if everybody could hear his words and hear his stories, they would see what I see."

And earlier last year, he added:

"So we are going to probably do a big workshop in New York this summer and I'm going to try to bring it to Broadway in the next Broadway season... So a year from now hopefully you'll be seeing this world-changing musical on the Broadway stage. I couldn't be more excited... Todd Krickler is writing the book, and with the lyrics by Tupac, it's going to be very exciting, pretty much would sort of change the face of musical theater as we know it on Broadway, so I am looking forward to that."

And then in an interview later last year, Naturi Naughton, while she was doing promo work for The Client List, stated that she was going to "spend the next few months in New York in a workshop production of Holler If Ya Hear Me..."

From the BET piece:

... she will definitely get the chance to put her pipes to use this spring. She’ll spend the next few months in New York in a workshop production of Holler if You Hear Me, based on the music of Tupac Shakur. “It’s not Tupac’s life, it’s his music inspiring a story,” she differentiates. She's sworn to secrecy not to reveal plot or cast, but was visibly thrilled to be a part of it. “Singing and performing is my passion,” she says. “I’m really happy.”

No word on whether she's still involved. I should note that being cast in the workshop doesn't necessarily solidify an actor being cast when the production moves from the workshop phase to a full-on Broadway show.

The most recent update comes today, with the announcement that Kenny Leon will direct a 5-week-long summer workshop of Holler If Ya Hear Me, this year. The workshop will feature choreography by Tony Award winner Wayne Cilento (Wicked). 

Along with the announcement came a synopsis for the project, which I'm seeing for the very first time:

"Holler If Ya Hear Me is a new musical inspired by the work of Tupac Shakur. Set present-day in the inner city streets 'my block' of a Mid-western industrial city, Holler tells the story of two childhood friends (John and Vertus) and their friends, relatives and adversaries as they struggle to reconcile the challenges and realities of their daily lives with their hopes, dreams and ambitions."

It doesn't give away much, but we know more about what story it'll tell than we did before. So if it isn't already clear, this isn't a Tupac biopic stage musical. They'll apparently be using his music, but it's not his story that the production will tell.

Stay tuned...



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