Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Russell Simmons Bringing Rap’s Golden Age to Broadway in “The Scenario”


Stand back, Broadway. Here comes rap, again. This time Russell Simmons, creator of DefJam, philanthropist and tastemaker, is bring rap’s golden age to what may now be called The Great Black Way.

“The Scenario” is the name of a musical Simmons is funding for development that will showcase rap from the early 80s through the mid 90s.

Simmons says he will produce through his own Def Pictures, “alongside Tony Award-winning Broadway producer Big Block (Scott Prisand/Jamie Bendell) (Rock of Ages, Heathers, Gentlemans Guide To Love And Murder). THE SCENARIO will feature an original story written by acclaimed author and hip-hop historian Dan Charnas (The Big Payback). The show will debut in the fall of 2016.

Rap is a so so proposition on Broadway. A musical based on the work of Tupac Shakur called “Holla If You Hear Me” had a short interesting run a couple of years ago. “Hamilton” is coming to Broadway this summer, and is sort of rap lite with a lot of R&B and mainstream melodic music to buffer it. “Hamilton” also works because it has a brilliant book. A jukebox rap musical will depend on a strong story, performers, and arrangements that don’t send regular theatergoers, black or white, scrambling for ear plugs.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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