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Kenny Leon's Tupac Shakur Musical Heading To Broadway During 2013/2014 Season

Photo of Tambay A. Obenson By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act June 24, 2013 at 2:47PM

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).
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Tupac

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 stage musical is indeed in the works with Kenny Leon helming, with new word hitting the airwaves today stating that a 5-week-long summer developmental workshop for the musical, inspired by the work of Tupac Shakur, titled Holler If Ya Hear Me, is currently underway in New York City. Accompanying that news is that director Leon plans for a Broadway debut during the upcoming 2013-2014 season.

Recapping the details...

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.

Along with the announcement came an official synopsis for the project:

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.

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.

The non-biographical work features a book by Todd Kreidler and choreography by Tony Award Winner Wayne Cilento (Wicked, How to Succeed…, AIDA), with musical supervision by Daryl Waters (Bring in ‘Da Noise, Bring In ‘Da Funk, The Color Purple, Memphis).

Holler If Ya Hear Me is produced by Afeni Shakur, Eric L. Gold, Chunsoo Shin and Jessica Green.

Stay tuned...

This article is related to: Kenny Leon


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