Just weeks after director Kenny Leon took home a Tony® Award for “After Midnight,” the show closed. During his award acceptance speech Leon gave a worldwide shout out to “Holler If Ya Hear Me,” a musical based on and inspired by the work of the late Tupac Shakur. Folks, if you want to “holla,” you have to do so by this Sunday, July 20th as Kenny Leon’s latest effort will join the fate of After Midnight, closing the doors, lowering the final curtain and fading to black. After less than a two month run, the show falls under the Chris Rock grand opening, grand closing canvas.
The show stars Tony® Award winner Tonya Pinkins as the neighborhood matriarch and not as Shakur’s mother Afeni as one might expect, along with slam poet/ singer Saul Williams (who by the way channeled the spirit of Tupac quite well) as a recently released inmate trying to stay out of trouble and Christopher Jackson as his best friend, whose need for revenge threatens violence in their unnamed Midwestern city. With that description, it’s clear to any Tupac fan, that this is not Tupac’s story. That in itself may be one of the many issues plaguing the show. Critics who know anything of the life of Tupac, slammed the show and its writers claiming this “tale from the hood” did not reflect Shakur’s life and only used his music to lure an audience. The play is billed(in relatively small print) as a non-biographical story of friendship, family and hope which would lead one to wonder the reasons Tupac’s name is front and center as an integral part of the show. His poetry and music can be used all day long but the view from my bridge blows a breeze of “shade.” Another element that may have further confused critics and the few would did purchase Broadway’s cheapest ticker is the fact that Tupac Shakur’s mother Afeni served as the show’s producer. If she approved of the show as it was presented, one can only cringe at what the original presentation must have been.
This reeks of a “get-a-check” scenario where nobody told Nick Cannon. Had that been the case, there’s a probability that the show would have survived and been more authentic. I’m just sayin’….holler if ya hear me!