Tupac Broadway Musical HOLLER IF YA HEAR ME Gets Second Life; Kenny Leon Hopes for National Tour
In June of 2014, the new Broadway musical HOLLER IF YA HEAR ME, based on the music of Tupac Shakur, opened on Broadway. Starring the spoken word artist Saul Williams, as well as Broadway veterans Tonya Pinkins (CAROLINE OR CHANGE) and Christopher Jackson (IN THE HEIGHTS), the show shuttered after just 17 previews and 38 performances.
According to The New York Times, the unique musical is getting a second chance at Atlanta's True Colors Theater Company, co-founded by 'Holler' director Kenny Leon in 2002. The show is set to open at the 375-seat theater located in Atlanta's Cascade Heights neighborhood on September 12th. Leon will once again direct.
Featuring a 19-person cast, the hip-hop musical, which pre-dated HAMILTON, uses Shakur's music and poetry to tell a story about love, community and second chances. While the original Broadway storyline will remain largely intact, recent events in the country may breathe new meaning into it. Explains librettist Todd Kreidler, "People are going to see the story through a different lens because of Ferguson and Black Lives Matter." He adds, "Artistically, I look at Broadway as the tryout, and I am excited to get back into this story again,"
Adds lead producer Eric L. Gold, "People have commented to me that it was one moment too soon, and that opening on Broadway was just too ambitious." He adds, "Not opening originally in Atlanta is one of my biggest regrets."
Says Mr. Leon of the show's latest incarnation, "A lot of eyes are on the production to see how it works in Atlanta, so that maybe we could have a national tour. "
For the True Colors Theater version, the creators have added spoken-word sections into the number "Ghetto Gospel," which were written by students in the ensemble who attend Spelman College and Clark Atlanta University. These new sections allow cast members to reflect on racial incidents that have occurred long after Shakur's untimely passing.
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Photo credit: Joan Marcus