One of the many subplots on Glee this season saw Rachel Berry (Lea Michele) audition for a presumably fictional “Russell Simmons musical.” But now news just broke that hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons actually is working on a musical, which either means Glee creator Ryan Murphy had some insider information (the more likely option) or Simmons gets all of his career ideas from Glee (the more fun option). Either way, The Scenario will be a “jukebox musical” that pulls songs from the golden age of hip-hop in the 1980s and ’90s.
Simmons’ venture is already being compared to Rock Of Ages, which similarly combined classic songs from the ’80s into a successful stage show (although in that case it was more Journey and less N.W.A.). And unlike its dreadful film adaptation, the Rock Of Ages stage show found critical and commercial success thanks to its concert-like vibe and charming self-awareness. (Which means Simmons probably shouldn’t take the verse of “Rapper’s Delight” about eating terrible food at a friend’s house that seriously.)
And while the idea of musical theater performers singing “Fight The Power” might sound absurd to some, writer/actor Lin-Manuel Miranda has already proven there’s a place for hip-hop on Broadway with his Tony Award-winning 2008 musical In The Heights. (His new show, Hamilton, explores the lives of America’s founding fathers through an original hip-hop score and has already earned rave reviews.) The Scenario won’t even be the first hip-hop jukebox musical, as last season’s Holler If Ya Hear Me used the music of Tupac Shakur to tell an original story.
The Scenario is still in early stages with author Dan Charnas (The Big Payback: The History Of The Business Of Hip-Hop) onboard to write the script, which will be an original story. The show might launch Off-Broadway, or it might look for a less traditional performance space altogether. Whatever the case, Simmons is aiming to open in New York in late 2016. Whether he will dare include West Coast hits in an East Coast venue remains to be seen.