How Hamilton Helped Russell Simmons Get His Musical The Scenario Off the Ground

News   How Hamilton Helped Russell Simmons Get His Musical The Scenario Off the Ground
The hip-hop mogul sounds off on what will make his New York-bound theatrical event resonate with audiences.
Russell Simmons
Russell Simmons

Hip-hop pioneer Russell Simmons is on track to bring his musical The Scenario to the stage. As previously reported, the Def Jam Recordings co-founder intends to premiere the show in New York during the 2017-18 season prior to a 30-city tour. While the latest Broadway show to borrow from the hip-hop canon, 2014’s Holler If Ya Hear Me, failed to find an audience, Simmons looks toward a certain revolutionary musical for hope.

“People understood my play more once they saw Hamilton,” Simmons, a Tony winner for Def Poetry Jam, tells Billboard. “The theatre owners all love the idea now, whereas they didn’t necessarily like it before.”

Partly inspired by seeing Rock of Ages, Simmons envisions The Scenario to be an interactive event that’s half musical and half concert. The show will lift from the Universal Music Group catalogue of hip hop and rap classics. “Everyone wants to participate in this celebration,” Simmons says. “I can almost certainly say that ‘Rapper’s Delight’ will be in the show … ‘Christmas Rappin'’ and ‘The Breaks’ will probably be in the show, and we’d even like to include Migos.”

Simmons cites the universality of the genre when explaining what will make his show resonate with audiences. “The Scenario is everyone’s story,” he says. “It is a story about everyone evolving, learning, growing, and coming of age.” He goes on to explain that hip-hop vernacular is uniting and authentic: “When a soccer mom in Cleveland says, ‘Bitch better have my money,’ she really means, ‘I want the remote and I can’t get it.’ Everyone has the same struggle—language and culture just make it sound more interesting.”

No word yet whether The Scenario will feature soccer moms saying, “Bitch better have my money.”


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