Casting is in place for the world premiere of “Holler If Ya Hear Me,” the Broadway musical about struggling inner-city lives, inspired by and set to the music and lyrics of rap legend Tupac Shakur.
Heading the cast of the non-biographical musical drama is Saul Williams, the recording artist and leading figure in the slam poetry movement who turned heads as star and co-writer of Marc Levin’sSlam. That 1998 film won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance and the Camera d’Or award for best first feature at Cannes.
Joining Williams is Tonya Pinkins, a featured actress Tony Award winner for Jelly’s Last Jam and a nominee for lead actress in “Play On!” and “Caroline, Or Change.”
Other Broadway veterans in the cast include Christopher Jackson (After Midnight, In the Heights), Saycon Sengbloh (Motown: The Musical, Hair), Ben Thompson (Matilda, American Idiot) and John Earl Jelks, who appeared in the August Wilson plays Gem of the Ocean and Radio Golf. Newcomers Joshua Boone and Dyllon Burnside complete the principal cast.
Written by Todd Kreidler, “Holler If Ya Hear Me” will be directed by Kenny Leon, who earned stellar reviews for the current Broadway revival of “A Raisin in the Sun,” which opened last week starring Denzel Washington.
Described as a story about friendship, family, revenge, change and hope that opens a window onto the reality of the streets in contemporary America, the musical begins preview performances May 29 at Broadway’s Palace Theatre, with opening night set for June 19.
- This article first appeared in THR.com