“Holler if Ya Hear Me” Opens on Broadway

“Holler if Ya Hear Me” Negative Reviews Will Not Help Low Box Office Figures

The Tupac Shakur inspired musical Holler if Ya Hear Me had its official opening on June 19, 2014 at the Palace Theatre, after running for 17 preview performances.  In the weeks approaching the opening night, upon which the critical response would be publicized to the masses, ticket sales were abominably low.  With an average weekly ticket price ranging between $24.10 and $32.84, the show only managed to bring in at the most $170,652 a week in its first three weeks of running.  These numbers were so dire, in fact, that one of the producers was quoted as saying that the musical would close just over a week after opening if the reviews were poor.  The reviews are in, and they are well below positive.  However, the production has made no official announcement of closing in the timeframe that they had supposedly specified.  Still, it is doubtful if the show will be able to stay afloat for much longer with these low numbers, coupled with the negative reviews.

holler if ya hear meVeteran Director Kenny Leon Did Not Save This Show

Holler if Ya Hear Me is written by Todd Kreidler and directed by Kenny Leon, with lyrics by Tupac Shakur, and the music arranged and orchestrated by Daryl Waters.  Leon is also behind the acclaimed and Tony Award winning revival of A Raisin in the Sun that just concluded performances this season.  However, Holler if Ya Hear Me was much less well received.  Charles Isherwood of The New York Times gave it a fairly negative review, criticizing the show for being relentless and heavy-handed in driving home its tragic themes.  The Hollywood Reporter called the show well-intentioned but toothless, and Time Out New York, NBC, and Associated Press were all on the fence but certainly not singing the praises of this tuner.  In general, critics were appreciative of the performances, especially the star Saul Williams making his Broadway debut.  They also enjoyed the beats and the music, but reviewers were less in favor of the uneven narrative storytelling and the ramshackle method of re-appropriating Tupac’s songs for the stage.

A Summer Hip Hop Musical Was A Long Shot All Along

The show was already a long-shot for success on Broadway for a number of reasons, and these reviews will certainly not help attract audiences to the struggling production.  For one, it opened in the summer after the Tony Awards, when no other shows are opening.  There is a reason for this, and it is because most summer tourists tend to choose a long-running musical, or a recent Tony Award winning hit, rather than a new show they have barely heard about.  Furthermore, its demographic is a tough one for Broadway.  According to Michael Riedel of The New York Post, a veteran producer was quoted as saying that the show would fail because the average theatre ticket buyers are middle-aged women, who are generally not familiar with the music of Tupac.  In general, he said, it would be tough for a rap musical to make it on Broadway, especially when there is not a Hollywood star leading the cast.

holler if ya hear me cast

This is unfortunate, as hip hop has been mainstream for quite a while, and it is a shame that Broadway has not reached the point where it can be representative of the nation as a whole.  Perhaps this is because Broadway prices out many of the individuals who would have enjoyed a show about Tupac, or maybe it is because the attempt to bridge these two art forms was misguided in the first place.  In any case, the show will most likely not be open for much longer, even if it is still hanging on a week after opening.

Tupac Shakur Musical “Holler if Ya Hear Me” Begins Previews

“Holler if Ya Hear Me”, Inspired By The Late Tupac Shakur, Begins Previews On Broadway

Tupac Shakur is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, having sold over 75 million records in his career.  His albums include “2Pacalypse Now,” “Until the End of Time,” “All Eyez on Me,” “Me Against the World,” and “Pac’s Life.”  The life of this brilliant rapper and actor was cut short in 1996, however, when he was shot multiple times in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas at the age of only 25.  Despite the brevity of his career, he has managed to maintain a huge following and long-standing appreciation, with Rolling Stone Magazine having recently proclaimed him the 86th Greatest Artist of All Time.  The themes of Tupac’s music often involve the hardship of the life in inner cities, as well as racism and other social issues; both of his parents were members of the Black Panther Party.  Tupac’s legacy has been upheld through organizations, honors, and multiple documentaries, but for the first time, his music and story are coming to Broadway.

holler if ya hear meOpening  scheduled for June 19, 2014 at the Palace Theatre on Broadway

On June 2, 2014, Holler if Ya Hear Me, a new musical inspired by the music of Tupac Shakur, will begin previews at the Palace Theatre.  With an opening night scheduled for June 19, 2014, the musical is presently set for an open-ended run.  The show is directed by Kenny Leon, whose magnificent career has sky-rocketed in recent years to define him as the preeminent interpreter of African American content for the Broadway stage.  The book was written by Todd Kreidler, who has served as Dramaturg for two Broadway productions directed by Leon and written by August Wilson – Gem of the Ocean and Radio Golf – and who also associate directed another Leon-Wilson collaboration: Fences starring Denzel Washington in 2010.  This is the first time, however, that Kreidler has stepped up to a major position on the creative team of one of Kenny Leon’s productions.  The choreography is by Wayne Cilento (The Who’s Tommy, Wicked).

The Show borrows “Holler if Ya Hear Me” from Tupac’s Second Album

The title of this musical comes from the name of a song on Tupac’s second studio album.  The story is not exactly a biographical depiction of the late singer’s life, however; it is a fictional tale of a young black man who is released from prison, only to face a continued slew of obstacles that lie in his path.  It uses the phrases and ideas found in Tupac’s music to tell this universal tale of friendship, family, love, and hope.  The musical received a 5-week workshop last summer in anticipation of its Broadway run this season.  The show is produced by Tupac’s mother, Afeni Shakur, along with Eric L. Gold, Chunsoo Shin, Jessica Green, and Marcy Kaplan-Gold.  The large cast is made up mostly of ensemble, but it also includes actors such as Tonya Pinkins (Caroline or Change, Radio Golf) and the principal young man is played by actor and rapper Saul Williams, making his Broadway debut.

The Show Is Geared For A Wide Demographic, But Socially Conscious

The intention of the show is socially conscious, which is an unusual first motive for Broadway shows, especially thostupac shakure opening in the summer season, generally known for lighter fare such as Beatles revues and long-running shows.  However, Leon and his cast will not shy away from shining a light on important issues at the heart of the contradictions in American society.  Geared for a wide demographic of all ages and colors, the show will nevertheless aim to expose the hypocrisy of free speech in present day American culture.  Thankfully, the prominent voice kept alive through Tupac’s music will now find another outlet on the Broadway stage.

Broadway Backwards Concert To Play the Palace on March 18

Broadway Cares Equity Fights AIDSOn March 18, Broadway Backwards is back. Now in its eighth year, the popular concert fundraiser is scheduled to be presented at Broadway’s Palace Theatre, currently home to the revival of the musical Annie. The gimmick of Broadway Backwards is that it allows female singers to take on songs traditionally sung by men while male performers get to sing songs usually sung by women.

The performers planning to participate in Broadway Backwards haven’t been announced yet, but the event always draws a number of Broadway pros eager to belt out songs that they never get to sing in shows because of their gender. The event will be directed and choreographed by Robert Bartley, who created Broadway Backwards. Amy Jones will serve as co-choreographer.

Tickets for Broadway Backwards start at $75. Order now by calling 212-840-0770 ext. 268 or by going to www.broadwaycares.org. If you buy VIP tickets, you will get premium seats and admission to the post-show cast party. “Backstage and Beyond” ticket packages offer the chance to see the dress rehearsal of the event, along with backstage access, a meet and greet with the stars, and premium seats for the performance.

Proceeds from Broadway Backwards will go to Broadway Cares / Equity Fights AIDS and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center of New York City.