Hip-hop pioneer, Tony Award-winning producer and multi-hyphenate entrepreneur Russell Simmons has announced the development of The Scenario, a new stage musical that will be driven by the music that defined a generation: the greatest hits from a two-decade span of hip-hop – from the “golden age” of the mid-80s to mid-90s “when it seemed that every new single reinvented the genre” (Rolling Stone), to the chart-topping artists at the turn of the millennium.
Simmons, who is widely credited with ushering in a hip-hop cultural revolution with the launch of Def Jam Recordings in 1984, and creating the trailblazing Def Comedy franchise in 1989, will produce through his Los Angeles-based production company Def Pictures, alongside Tony Award-winning Broadway producer Big Block (Scott Prisand/Jamie Bendell) (Rock of Ages, Heathers, Gentleman’s Guide To Love And Murder). The Scenario will feature an original story written by acclaimed author and hip-hop historian Dan Charnas (The Big Payback), and aims to premiere in New York City in late 2016.
“Hip hop’s explosion was fueled by a generation with an incredible hunger to discover new ways of expression,” said Simmons. “These artists were always breaking the mold with new rhythms and new ideas, while at the same time telling so many important and timeless stories that over the decades have continued to remain just as relevant. This is why the music continues to strike a chord with fans worldwide. It felt like such a natural fit to weave the best of these sounds and stories into an energetic and thrilling musical that would transport audiences through one of the most innovative artistic movements of our time.”
“Part of what made the Rock of Ages experience so incredible for theatregoers was the joy of hearing the most beloved songs of an era serve as the storyteller,” said Scott Prisand. “Russell is the catalyst of all this extraordinary music that has already touched generations to the core around the world; we’re taking those beats everyone knows and loves, and setting them into a fun original story.”
Added Jake Stein, who is shepherding the project on behalf of Def Pictures and will also produce with Simmons, “These classic songs, stories and rhythms will find a new audience on the theater stage. We believe this show will be an entirely new entry point for appreciating hip hop as a transformative art that has shaped culture, fashion, music and entertainment of all forms, and we hope it will help open the door for other live theatrical experiences.”
Entrepreneur, author, activist and philanthropist Russell Simmons has launched scores of groundbreaking careers and innovative enterprises in arenas as varied as music, film, television, fashion, comedy, poetry, digital platforms, theater and finance. His lifelong mission has been giving a voice to extraordinary talent and empowering underserved communities as they in turn shape the mainstream of culture.