Russell Simmons Developing Hip-Hop Stage Musical

News   Russell Simmons Developing Hip-Hop Stage Musical Tony Award-winning producer and Def Jam Records co-founder Russell Simmons is developing a new stage musical that will feature hip-hop hits spanning the mid-1980s to the turn of the millennium. Titled The Scenario, the musical is aiming for a 2016 New York City premiere.

Dan Charnas, whose book "The Big Payback" documents the history of hip-hop, is writing the book for the original musical that will be produced by Simmons along with his Los Angeles-based production company Def Pictures and Broadway Rock of Ages producer Big Block (Scott Prisand/Jamie Bendell).

Russell Simmons
Russell Simmons

"Hip hop's explosion was fueled by a generation with an incredible hunger to discover new ways of expression," said Simmons in a statement. "These artists were always breaking the mold with new rhythms and new ideas, while at the same time telling so many important and timeless stories that over the decades have continued to remain just as relevant. This is why the music continues to strike a chord with fans worldwide. It felt like such a natural fit to weave the best of these sounds and stories into an energetic and thrilling musical that would transport audiences through one of the most innovative artistic movements of our time."

The producers describe the musical as utilizing a "fun original story" that will bring songs from the "golden age" of hip-hop into a new era.

"These classic songs, stories and rhythms will find a new audience on the theater stage," said co-producer Jake Stein in a statement. "We believe this show will be an entirely new entry point for appreciating hip hop as a transformative art that has shaped culture, fashion, music and entertainment of all forms, and we hope it will help open the door for other live theatrical experiences."

Representatives for the production told Playbill.com that Broadway is a possibility that producers are exploring, but that other options are on the table. A Broadway run for the hip-hop musical could be a risky move. In 2014, the Tupac Shakur musical Holler If Ya Hear Me was greeted with lackluster reviews. Low ticket sales prompted the musical to shutter after only 38 regular performances and 17 previews.

However, the new Lin-Manuel Miranda musical Hamilton, which incorporates hip-hop beats into its original character-driven score, arrives on Broadway this July following a critically acclaimed sold-out Off-Broadway run.

Today’s Most Popular News: