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Celebrity Takeover

Russell Simmons Is Bringing Hip Hop Back To Broadway With Scenario

Hip hop mogul, and lets not forget, Tony Award-winner, Russell SimmoDefPJns (Def Poetry Jam 2002) is set to bring the genre back to Broadway with Scenario, a musical slated to open in late 2016.  The production will be a mixture of original classics from over 30 years of hip hop in addition to stylized versions of well-known songs.  In an article with Rolling Stone, Simmons likened Scenario to a hip hop version of Rock of Ages, a rock and roll musical that played on Broadway for 5 years that Simmons said was his inspiration. In fact, it is reported that the producer for Rock of Ages, Scott Prisand, will also produce Scenario, along with Simmons. Dan Charnas, no stranger to hip hop as a journalist and record producer, has been tagged to pen the script.

 “Hip hop’s explosion was fueled by a generation with an incredible hunger to discover new ways of expression,” said Simmons. “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.”

Jake Stein, who is shepherding the project on behalf of Def Pictures and will also produce with Simmons, “These classic songs, stories and rhythms will find a new audience on the theater stage.  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.”

While Holla If You Hear Me, the musical about the life of hip hop legend Tupac Shakur, failed to gain any traction on Broadway, Simmons doesn’t envision similar problems for Scenario. Instead, he views Scenario, and hip hop in general, much more mainstream. “It’s a whole different world. We’re talking about something that’s right down the middle versus something that’s really alternative.” Simmons is no stranger to success on Broadway. His Def Poetry Jam won the 2003 Tony Award for Best Theatrical Special Event. We look forward to the opening of Scenario next year.

Check out the work that garnered Russell Simmons his Tony Award the first time around back in 2002. Do you think he can bring a fire for the times, again?

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