Actor, poet, artist and musician Saul Williams will star in a new Broadway musical based on the lyrics of Tupac Shakur, Holler If Ya Hear Me, which begins preview performances on May 29th and opens on June 19th at the Palace Theatre.
The show will use Tupac’s music and words as a way to tell a non-biographical story about two friends living in a poverty-stricken industrial city in the Midwest, struggling to realize their dreams. The show will reportedly feature a number of classic Tupac songs including the title track, “California Love,” “Keep Ya Head Up” and “Me Against the World.”
Williams will star as John, while the cast also features Broadway vets Christopher Jackson (In the Heights) as Vertus, Tonya Pinkins (who picked up a Tony Award for Jelly’s Last Jam) as Mrs. Weston, Saycon Sengbloh (Motown: The Musical) as Corinne, Ben Thompson (American Idiot) as Griffy and John Earl Jelks (August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean and Radio Golf) as the Street Preacher. Newcomers Joshua Boone and Dyllon Burnside fill out the rest of the primary cast.
Holler If Ya Hear Me was penned by Todd Kreidler and will be directed by Kenny Leon, the latter behind the recent Broadway revival of A Raisin in the Sun that opened last week with Denzel Washington.
Along with the new musical, the long-delayed Tupac biopic is expected to go in to production this summer, with Oscar-nominated filmmaker John Singleton ( Boyz n the Hood) writing, directing and producing. “Tupac was the guy who I planned to do a lifetime of films with,” Singleton said. “His passing deeply affected my life as well as countless people in this world. His life story is as important to my generation.”