Palace Theatre, (6/19/2014 - 7/20/2014)

First Preview: Jun 02, 2014
Opening Date: Jun 19, 2014
Closing Date: Jul 20, 2014
Total Previews: 17
Total Performances: 38

Category: Musical, Original, Broadway

Opening Night Production Staff

Theatre Owned / Operated by Stewart F. Lane, James M. Nederlander and James L. Nederlander

Produced by Eric L. Gold, Chunsoo Shin, Jessica Green, Marcy Kaplan Gold, Anita Waxman and Afeni Shakur; Associate Producer: The Kaplan Family Limited Partnership

Book by Todd Kreidler; Lyrics by Tupac Amaru Shakur; Music orchestrated by Daryl Waters; Music arranged by Daryl Waters; Musical Director: Zane Mark

Directed by Kenny Leon; Musical Staging and Choreography by Wayne Cilento; Associate Director: Kamilah Forbes; Senior Associate Choreographer: Ioana Alfonso; Associate Choreographer: Jared Grimes

Scenic Design by Edward Pierce; Scenic Designs Based on Original Concepts by David Gallo; Costume Design by Reggie Ray; Lighting Design by Mike Baldassari; Sound Design by John Shivers and David Patridge; Hair and Wig Design by Gregory Bazemore; Projection Design by Zachary Borovay; Associate Scenic Design: Nick Francone; Associate Costume Design: Richard Gross

General Manager: Richard Martini; Executive Producer: Richard Martini; Company Manager: Susan Guszynski

Production Manager: Theatersmith Associates; Production Stage Manager: Beverly Jenkins; Stage Manager: Mark Dobrow

Musical Supervisor: Daryl Waters; Conducted by Zane Mark; Associate Conductor: Paul Masse; Keyboard: Zane Mark and Paul Masse; Guitar: Steve Bargonetti; Bass Guitar: Carl Carter; Drums: Damon DueWhite; Percussion: Dan Weiner; Trumpet 1/Flugelhorn: Barry Danielian; Trumpet 2/Flugelhorn: Scott Wendholt; Saxophone/Flute: Scott Kreitzer; Trombone: Charles Gordon; Musical Coordinator: John Monaco; Electronic Music Design: Andrew Barrett

Fight direction by Rick Sordelet; Dance Captain: Ryan Davis; Casting: Caparelliotis Casting; Press Representative: Boneau / Bryan-Brown; Advertising: AKA; Marketing: AKA; Digital & Interactive: AKA; Photographer: Joan Marcus

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Opening Night Cast

Joshua BooneDarius
Dyllon BurnsideAnthony
Christopher JacksonVertus
John Earl JelksStreet Preacher
Tonya PinkinsMrs. Weston
Saycon SengblohCorinne
Ben ThompsonGriffy
Saul WilliamsJohn
Tracee BeazerEnsemble
Afi BijouEnsemble
Mel CharlotEnsemble
Carrie CompereEnsemble
Otis CottonEnsemble
Brandon GillEnsemble
Ari GrooverEnsemble
Jared JosephEnsemble
Lemar
Joaquina KalukangoKamilah
Ensemble
Jahi A. KearseEnsemble
Nunn
Muata LangleyEnsemble
Valentine NortonEnsemble
Christina SajousEnsemble
Charlene SmithEnsemble
Jaime Lincoln SmithEnsemble
Reggie
Donald Webber, Jr.Ensemble
Benny

Swings: Ryan Davis and Candace Maxwell

Understudies: Tracee Beazer (Corinne), Carrie Compere (Mrs. Weston), Brandon Gill (Anthony, Darius, Lemar, Reggie), F. Michael Haynie (Griffy), Jahi A. Kearse (Street Preacher, Vertus), Christina Sajous (Kamilah), Jaime Lincoln Smith (Nunn) and Donald Webber, Jr. (John)

Songs



ACT 1 Sung By
My Block
(music by Osten S. Harvey, Jr., Ernest Isley, Marvin Isley, O'Kelly Isley, Jr., Ronald Isley, Rudolph Bernard Isley, Chris Jasper and Tupac Amaru Shakur; lyrics by Tupac Amaru Shakur )
John and Company
Dopefiend's Diner
(music by Deon Evans, Tupac Amaru Shakur and Suzanne Vega; lyrics by Tupac Amaru Shakur )
Vertus and My Block Chorus
Life Goes On
(music by Johnny Lee Jackson, Joseph B. Jefferson, Tupac Amaru Shakur and Charles B. Simmons; lyrics by Tupac Amaru Shakur )
Anthony, Darius, Nunn, Lemar, Reggie and My Block Chorus
I Get Around
(music by Tupac Amaru Shakur, Gregory Jacobs, Larry Troutman, Shirley Murdock and Ron Brooks; lyrics by Tupac Amaru Shakur )
Darius, Reggie, Lemar, Corinne, Kamilah and My Block Chorus
Keep Ya Head Up
(music by Tupac Amaru Shakur; lyrics by Tupac Amaru Shakur )
Darius, Reggie, Lemar, Corinne, Kamilah and My Block Chorus
I Ain't Mad at Cha
(music by Delmar Drew Arnaud, Etterlene Jordan, Tupac Amaru Shakur and Danny Boy Steward; lyrics by Tupac Amaru Shakur )
Vertus, John and My Block Women
Please Wake Me When I'm Free
(music by Tupac Amaru Shakur; lyrics by Tupac Amaru Shakur )
Corinne and Kamilah
The Rose That Grew From Concrete
(music by Tupac Amaru Shakur; lyrics by Tupac Amaru Shakur )
Corinne and Kamilah
Me Against the World
(music by Burt Bacharach, Hal David, Yafeu Fula, Malcolm Greenidge, Kenneth Karlin, Minnie Riperton, Richard Rudolph, Carsten Shack, Tupac Amaru Shakur and Leon Ware; lyrics by Tupac Amaru Shakur )
John and Corinne
Whatz Next
(music by Tyruss Gerald Himes, Johnny Lee Jackson, Johnny McKinzie, Maurice Shelton-Harding Shakur, Tupac Amaru Shakur and Salih Williams; lyrics by Tupac Amaru Shakur )
Vertus, Darius, Anthony, Corinne and My Block Chorus
Dear Mama
(music by Bruce Andrew Hawes, Joseph B. Jefferson, Tony Pizarro, Joe Sample, Tupac Amaru Shakur and Charles B. Simmons; lyrics by Tupac Amaru Shakur )
Vertus and My Block Chorus
Holler If Ya Hear Me
(music by Kevin Rhames, Tupac Amaru Shakur, Barrett Strong, Christopher Walker, Randy Walker and Norman Jesse Whitfield; lyrics by Tupac Amaru Shakur )
John, Anthony, Darius and My Block Chorus
ACT 2 Sung By
My Block (Reprise)
(music by Osten S. Harvey, Jr., Ernest Isley, Marvin Isley, O'Kelly Isley, Jr., Ronald Isley, Rudolph Bernard Isley, Chris Jasper and Tupac Amaru Shakur; lyrics by Tupac Amaru Shakur )
Anthony and Darius
Changes
(music by Deon Evans, Bruce R. Hornsby and Tupac Amaru Shakur; lyrics by Tupac Amaru Shakur )
John, Griffy, Vertus, Anthony and My Block Chorus
Resist the Temptation
(music by Tupac Amaru Shakur; lyrics by Tupac Amaru Shakur )
Vertus and Mrs. Weston
Dear Mama (Reprise)
(music by Bruce Andrew Hawes, Joseph B. Jefferson, Tony Pizarro, Joe Sample, Tupac Amaru Shakur and Charles B. Simmons; lyrics by Tupac Amaru Shakur )
Vertus and Mrs. Weston
Hail Mary
(music by Rufus Lee Cooper, Katari T. Cox, Yafeu Fula, Joseph Paquette, Tupac Amaru Shakur, Bruce Washington and Tyrone J. Wrice; lyrics by Tupac Amaru Shakur )
John, Darius, Anthony and Young Souljas
Unconditional Love
(music by Johnny Lee Jackson and Tupac Amaru Shakur; lyrics by Tupac Amaru Shakur )
John and Corinne
I Ain't Mad at Cha (Reprise)
(music by Delmar Drew Arnaud, Etterlene Jordan, Tupac Amaru Shakur and Danny Boy Steward; lyrics by Tupac Amaru Shakur )
John and Street Preacher
If I Die 2Nite
(music by Willie James Clarke, Norman Anthony Durham, Osten S. Harvey, Jr., Tupac Amaru Shakur and Betty Wright; lyrics by Tupac Amaru Shakur )
Anthony, Darius, Reggie, Lemar and Young Souljas
Only God Can Judge Me
(music by Anthony Forte, Harold A. Fretty, Douglas B. Rasheed and Tupac Amaru Shakur; lyrics by Tupac Amaru Shakur )
Anthony
Thugz Mansion
(music by Seven Marcus Aurelius, Anthony Hamilton, Johnny Lee Jackson and Tupac Amaru Shakur; lyrics by Tupac Amaru Shakur )
John, Vertus and Griffy
California Love
(music by Mutah W. Beale, Rufus Lee Cooper, Malcolm Greenidge, Tyruss Gerald Himes, Johnny Lee Jackson and Tupac Amaru Shakur; lyrics by Tupac Amaru Shakur )
Reggie, Lemar, Young Souljas and My Block Women
Ghetto Gospel
(music by Deon Evans, Elton John, Marshall B. Mathers III, Luis Edgardo Resto, Tupac Amaru Shakur and Bernie Taupin; lyrics by Tupac Amaru Shakur )
Company

Reviews


AP: "Tupac Shakur musical tests limits of rap"

Broadway has had a punk jukebox musical with Green Day songs and one featuring harmonies by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. There's a jukebox show with Abba songs and a new Carole King one. Now it's time for rap.

"Holler If Ya Hear Me" is the intriguing musical inspired by songs by Tupac Shakur, one of hip-hop's greatest artists who wrote about the ugly life in the drug-fueled mean streets before dying of gunshot wounds in 1996.

The high-energy, deeply felt but ultimately overwrought production opened Thursday in a blaze of N-words at the Palace Theatre, proving both that rap deserves its moment to shine on a Broadway stage and that some 20 Shakur songs can somehow survive the transformation - barely.

Writer Todd Kreidler and director Kenny Leon wisely avoided writing a Shakur biography and instead have fashioned a fictional story in a traditional two-act format, compete with reprises. It's a tragedy, with more than a whiff of Shakespearian doom and bluster.

But the creators apparently haven't trusted it to appear in a traditional Broadway theater. Stadium-style seating built in the Palace's orchestra section has displaced 600 seats and created intimacy, but one wonders why one of Broadway's biggest theaters was even picked in the first place.

It stars slam poet and singer Saul Williams as John, a recently sprung inmate hoping to stay out of trouble, and Christopher Jackson as his buddy Vertus, whose need for familial revenge threatens more violence in their unnamed Midwestern city. It's set in the present and the story makes references to iPods and Sudoku, though the lyrics - slightly altered to allow for gender differences - remain firmly in the mid-1990s.

Unlike other jukebox musicals, the songs in "Holler If Ya Hear Me" are rarely ever delivered in the style of the original artist. Instead, the show's creators test their elasticity by turning them into duets or group songs - and one even gets a folky acoustic guitar treatment. The danger is that the urgent, free verse style of Shakur's very personal songs gets diffused, lightened and flattened.

There are some inspired moments, like when the misogynist "I Get Around," with eight men boasting about their prowess, gets matched with "Keep Ya Head Up," a song about female empowerment performed by eight women. "Dear Mama" fits perfectly as a song Vertus sings to his mother, played by the always-fabulous Tonya Pinkins. "If I Die 2Nite" is nicely done, with Wayne Cilento's staging and choreography smartly distributing verses to a group of street soldiers, each in their own spotlight.

The party jam "California Love" getting the full Broadway treatment - complete with a Cadillac onstage - and the Act One closing number of the title track is led by Williams in full propulsive anger, as close to hearing the shaking fury of Shakur himself.

But that full-throttle energy can't sustain itself through the 2 1/2-hour show. "Me Against the World" becomes a bland duet between the two heroes, and "Unconditional Love" is repurposed as a love song between John and his estranged girlfriend, played by Saycon Sengbloh, whose sensational voice reveals the limitations of Williams' range.

"I Ain't Mad at Cha" is used as a duet between Vertus and John and later recycled for John and his father, a street preacher with a bullhorn who seems lifted from a Spike Lee movie. "Only God Can Judge Me" is handed to a secondary, hothead character. The dancing is minimal throughout, leaning on crumping and hip-hop steps without choking the piece in big dance breaks.

It all slowly builds to a night where everything comes to a head and exposes some flab - "Dopefiend's Diner," for example, could have been cut and there are too many scenes in a junkyard. More troubling, the repetition of the me-against-the-world point of view in Shakur's songs doesn't always help move the story forward onstage.

Credit Afeni Shakur, a producer of the show, for allowing her son's music to sound differently. Or, if you're completely cynical, credit her with finding a new revenue stream for his catalogue. Either way, rap is firmly on Broadway, and that's something to celebrate.


AP
06/19/2014

New York Daily News: "Tupac Shakur-inspired musical 'Holler If Ya Hear Me'"

In the Tupac Shakur musical at the Palace, a salvaged 1964 Cadillac rolls onstage — an eight-cylinder symbol of escape. Built from old and new parts and with lots of love, so we’re told, the Caddy convertible is a big, eye-popping in-your-face beauty. It sets the scene for a tragedy.

“Holler If Ya Hear Me,” Broadway’s first rap jukebox musical, brings highs and lows too. The production is vibrant, raw and rousing, but it self-sabotages with predictability and unintelligibility.

Shakur, a trailblazing star of rap and hip hop, was prodigious, prolific and dead by gunfire at age 25 in 1996, a rise and fall that is disturbing to this day. The show, which doesn’t sanitize a slew of F-bombs and N-words, avoids straight-up biography.

The creative team — book writer Todd Kreidler, music supervisor Daryl Waters and director Kenny Leon — wrap Shakur’s words and music around an original contemporary Everyman Everywhere narrative about big-city racism, drugs, guns and tears.

“My Block” sets that tone and scene. It’s a time-honored way to start a musical. The traditional “Wonderful Town” did it 60 years ago. The rap-infused “In the Heights” reprised the approach in 2008.

The story follows John (a magnetic Saul Williams), a self-taught artist who’s fresh from jail (shades of Shakur, no?) starting over and working for Griffy (Ben Thompson), a mechanic and the lone white guy in the nabe. John struggles with the fact that his girl, Corinne (Saycon Sengbloh), is now with his drug-dealing friend Vertus (an excellent Christopher Jackson).

Like so many jukebox shows, the retrofit story is thin — in this case even including a deadly showdown a la the Sharks and the Jets. The saving grace of the scene is that it makes an astute point about urban warfare. The real enemy is often within a group, not outside it.

Leon, fresh from a Tony win for helming “A Raisin in the Sun,” guides a fluid, gritty and graceful production. Wayne Cilento’s movement and choreography energize everything. Performances are solid, including the reliable Tonya Pinkins, who makes the most of a maternal role, and John Earl Jelks as a street preacher connected to John.

The score ripples with Shakur’s familiar hits, including the emotional “Me Against the World,” apologetic “Dear Mama,” funky “I Get Around,” infectious “I Ain’t Mad at Cha” and acoustic-driven “California Love.”

The score is carefully curated and threaded among characters. Music consistently grooves but it doesn’t always grab. The main problem — and it’s a big one — is clarity: Muddy diction and unsure sound mix become a wrecking ball to Shakur’s gloriously constructed rhymes. “Matilda” brought the same what-are-they-saying woes, but rap is all about the words.

Holler? You bet you will. But just as much out of appreciation as frustration.


New York Daily News
06/19/2014

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