Tupac is coming to Broadway.
You heard it correctly — Kenny Leon, the theater director responsible for versions of “A Raisin in the Sun,” “Gem of the Ocean,” “The Mountaintop” and “Stick Fly,” is preparing his first musical, dubbed “Holler If Ya Hear Me.”
Although the musical won’t be biographical, the director tells the Wall Street Journal that it’s an anti-violence, “unconditional love story” featuring Shakur’s music. It’s based on the book by Todd Kreidler.
“When you look at the lyrics of his music, he was always talking about universal things like honor, betrayal, family,” Leon told WSJ about the rapper, who was fatally shot in 1996 at 25 years old. “[Tupac] was just trying to talk about life and say something about the country and being an American and raising a family here.”
First news of the musical broke in June, but since then, Leon says he has gained a full cast of 24 actors. Leon says the musical has already been workshopped three times.
“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,” he said.
Leon has gotten permission from the late rapper’s mother, Afeni Shakur, who is producing the musical with Eric Gold, to use the music. Earlier this year, she announced she would be releasing his full body of work, saying, “My son left many incomplete pieces and even more unfinished ideas. Using the blueprints he gave us, I am committed to fulfilling this duty.”
The musical is most likely on its way to the 2013-2014 season, but is still in search for a theater to house it.