Broadway Winter 2013/Spring 2014 Guide
by Whitney Spaner, 12/09/2013
Kenny Leon. Photo: Tyson Horne
Holler If Ya Hear Me
The phrase "mother knows best" will hopefully apply to this improbable new Broadway musical inspired by Tupac Shakur. The late rapper's activist mother, Afeni, is one of the producers of the show, which is decidedly not a biography of Shakur but is inspired by his short—now legendary—life. The show uses his hit songs like "Me Against the World," "California Love," "Keep Ya Head Up" and his 1993 resistance anthem, "Holler If Ya Hear Me," to tell an original story about the struggles within a circle of friends and family living in a poor urban community. Kenny Leon, who has made a career on Broadway directing plays focused on African-American characters—including this spring's revival of A Raisin in the Sun, starring Denzel Washington—will helm this production; Wicked's Wayne Cilento will choreograph the dance numbers. It's hard to say how the relatively squeaky clean commercialism of the Broadway stage will handle the badass nature of songs like "California Love," but it's undeniable the Tupac mystique will draw audiences in. As the star himself rapped, we're "famous cause we program worldwide."
Palace Theatre, 1564 Broadway. Previews start May 29; opens June 19.