Tupac: The Musical? Broadway Shows Based on Rock Songs

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Tupac: The Musical? Broadway Shows Based on Rock Songs
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(Tupac Shakur)

Tupac Shakur is back (did he ever really leave?) and this time it's in an even more bizarre incarnation than that wacky Coachella hologram. The late rapper's posthumous music will be featured in an upcoming musical, "Holler if Ya Hear Me," according to Rolling Stone.

Director Kenny Leon told Broadway.com, "Tupac was a prophet and I want everyone to see that. [Holler if Ya Hear Me] is a present-day musical using all of Tupac's music, but Tupac is not a character in the musical."

While the show is still in its preliminary stages, it could hit Broadway by next year. And it would be far from the first time that an icon's music rocked the Great White Way.

In 1993, The Who's rock opera, "Tommy," opened on Broadway, nearly 20 years after the film of the same name landed Ann Margaret a Golden Globe for her performance as Mrs. Walker. Both productions were based on the band's 1969 concept album, while the stage version swept the 1993 Tony Awards, nabbing awards for best directing, choreography, and musical score.

In 2002, Twyla Tharp's 1960s-themed musical "Movin' Out," based on Billy Joel's music and the characters from his iconic 1977 album "Scenes From An Italian Restaurant," debuted on Broadway. More rock ballet than rock opera, in 2012 Joel told the New York Times, ''It was risky, it was kind of crazy. There was so much potential for it to be a nightmare. I loved it.''

For more than ten years, the music of Queen has rocked the Broadway stage in the musical "We Will Rock You." In 2012, a plan to incorporate a holographic image of the band's late lead singer, Freddie Mercury, was scrapped. Queen's Roger Taylor told Billboard that he'd personally never play alongside an image of his dear friend ("It's the real one or no hologram for me," he said), but the rocker added, "I think it's an amazing effect when used properly -- obviously in darkness."

When Green Day's "American Idiot" -- a musical theater adaption of the band's 2004 album of the same name -- hit Broadway, Green Day front man Billie Joe Armstrong told Time, "When we were recording 'American Idiot,' we thought it was very theatrical and that it had a story line. We always thought it should be staged somehow. I didn't know women would sound that good singing my songs. They're even better than the way I sing them." The rocker described the rock opera's soundtrack as more "Rocky Horror than Leonard Cohen."

Pink Floyd's movie version of "The Wall" was far from a comedy, but when a Broadway show based on the 1979 double album was proposed in 2004, band co-founder Roger Waters said in a statement, "Great! Now I can write in some laughs, notable by their absence in the movie." Nearly ten years later, Broadway still awaits, but in a 2010 interview with Associated Press, Waters said the project is "still very much in the cards." "We're on the fourth or fifth version of the book, and trying to write some laughs into it," he said. "Humor is a very important part of my life, so part of the reason for wanting to do a production on Broadway is to express the funny side of the characters."

The ABBA songbook was the soundtrack for the long-running Broadway show "Mamma Mia!" In a 2009 interview with CNN, Swedish pop legend Bjorn Ulvaeus dished on turning the hit stage show into a movie: "When you have a big hit on the West End and on Broadway with a musical, as we had with 'Mamma Mia,' there is always the question, 'when are you going to do the movie?' Some people say you shouldn't do it until the actual stage musical is on its last legs, but I don't think that matters. We had been on Broadway for seven or eight years and eight or nine in the West End and we thought now is the time to make that movie." (Good idea. Meryl Streep starred in the flick, and got a Golden Globe nod to boot.)

And speaking of movies, long before Tom Cruise donned a mullet wig and a Bret Michaels bandana for his role as Stacee Jaxx in the 2012 movie "Rock of Ages," the music of '80s rockers Styx, Journey, Pat Benatar, Foreigner, and Bon Jovi was showcased in the Broadway version of the musical. In an interview with Hitfix, actress Julianne Hough said she checked out the stage show in preparation for her role as Sherrie in the film. She also dished on the tunes: "Even though this is a musical, we wanted it to sound as original to the original songs and not the Broadway version. Hopefully we did it justice. I think we did, I think it is pretty cool."

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