If you never thought you'd be able to catch a Broadway musical about a rap superstar, fear not: Holler If Ya Hear Me is slated to head to the Great White Way this 2013-14 season. The rap musical is inspired by the work — not the life, as this will not be biographical — of Tupac Shakur.
Although Tupac's music is the inspiration behind the production, Holler If Ya Hear Me will be an original story set in a Midwestern industrial city, present day. (As opposed to East Harlem, where Tupac was born in 1971.) Tupac will not be a character in the musical, although the title of the play derives from his 1993 song "Holler If Ya Hear Me." Instead, the story features two childhood friends and their families as they try to deal with the difficult life on the inner-city streets.
Kenny Leon, who will direct the production, said this about the show: "Tupac was a prophet and I want everyone to see that."
When I was in Las Vegas the week before last, I had the opportunity to see Phantom — The Las Vegas Spectacular at The Venetian. Like Penn & Teller, I somehow hadn't yet gotten to it. In this case, though, I had actually stayed at The Venetian for three consecutive years. I guess three years of hearing the main theme everywhere in the casino finally got to me, because I couldn't pass it up, especially after I learned that the show is closing in September.
First let me say that everybody was fantastic. Anthony Crivello as The Phantom, of course, but also Kristi Holden as Christine, Andrew Ragone as Raoul, Tina Walsh as Madame Giry, and the rest of the ensemble as well. They played their parts well, and Crivello in particular had a way of keeping the audience captivated. However, for me, John Leslie Wolfe as Monsieur André, and Lawson Skala as Monsieur Firmin, often stole the show at some points. They were hilarious, and the two actors have great chemistry together.
I'm still not sure whether that's a good thing or a bad thing. On one hand, they didn't so overshadow the two main cast members to make their performances pale in comparison. On other other hand, Wolfe's and Firmin's performances definitely left me wanting more appearances from their characters. Don't get me wrong; this show is about The Phantom and Christine, but they just didn't have quite as much an effect on me as Wolfe and Firmin (except maybe disliking The Phantom a bit for killing people). Maybe I'm just more into comedy than romantic drama, but after seeing them in this show, I want to see a spin-off featuring Monsieurs André and Firmin.