Broadway could see an infusion of rock-and-roll and hip-hop in the New Year, bringing some fresh blood and younger patrons to theaters after staple revivals failed to draw audiences in the weak economy.
Rock will be represented by American Idiot, a musical based on Green Day’s album by the same name. And, ’80s rap group, Run-DMC could finally bring some urban hip-hop to the Great White Way.
Veteran Hollywood producer Paula Wagner and her company Chestnut Ridge Productions are reportedly working on a show with rappers Rev. Joseph Simmons (Run) and Darryl McDaniels (DMC), the group’s two surviving members.
The estate of third member, Jam Master Jay, also known as Jason Mizell, is also represented on the project. “Their work speaks to everybody,” Wagner told Variety. “The story of their rise to fame is innately theatrical.”
Call it Jersey Boys for a younger urban set. Green Day’s American Idiot could also attract a similar audience.
Frontman Billie Joe Armstrong and Michael Mayer, who is also directing the musicial, are handling the book.
The musical will focuse on three young male friends whose lives take decidedly different turns, had a run last fall at Berkeley Repertory Theater, starring John Gallagher Jr., according to the The NYTimes.
The lead producers are the actor Tom Hulce and Ira Pittelman, who also worked on Broadway’s Spring Awakening with Mayer.
Gallagher won a Tony for his role in Spring Awakening, but no word on whether he will be in American Idiot.
The show will move to the St. James Theater on Broadway this spring, in time to be eligible for the 2010 Tony Awards, according to Times. It is scheduled to begin preview performances on March 24 and open on April 20, according to the producers.
The Run DMC musical charts a similar course. It follows Simmons, McDaniels and Mizell as they founded the group in Hollis, Queens, and became one of the first rap acts to build a substantial white, largely suburban fan base.
The group is probably best known for its 1986 remake of the Aerosmith song “Walk This Way.”
The video for the song featured the rock group and helped launch its revival as well as introducing rap to a mainstream rock audience.
Although lesser known, their rap albums, King of Rock and Raising Hell, sold millions of copies.
“Their lyrics and their music is infectious,” Wagner said. “It’s vibrant, it’s alive. Who they are and what they did was a culturally defining moment. It embraced everybody.”
The band was working on a reunion when Mizell was shot and killed in his recording studio in Jamaica, Queens.
Whether that painful episode will be worked into the musical is unknown. The murder was never solved.
Wagner is best known for her work with actor Tom Cruise. She served chief executive of his revived United Artists studio, which produced the popular “Mission: Impossible” series and the lesser acclaimed “War of the Worlds.” She also worked as his agent.
No timetable has been set for the show.