Today we learn Holler If Ya Hear Me is being categorized as a “Broadway flop,” never once reaching $200,000 in its first six weeks.
The non-biographical rap musical should have been an epoch-making production, combining the lyrics and poetry of slain Hip-Hop icon Tupac Shakur to tell a story set in a Midwest inner-city neighborhood. Instead, at the hands of poor ticket sales and even poorer planning, the show has failed at what could have been Hip-Hop’s foray into Broadway.
Critical response to the show was lukewarm. While many reviewers appreciated the attempt to stretch the jukebox musical format in new directions, going beyond the safe parameters of Baby Boomer hits, most found the story of racism, poverty, crime, violence, community and redemption mired in plot cliches and stock characters.
However, the show’s fundamental problem for some critics was that Shakur’s lyrics don’t lend themselves to being contextualized in a traditional story-driven musical.
It was apparent from the outset that not only was the show’s marketing not working, but also that producers had made a mistake in bypassing the developmental opportunities of an out-of-town tryout and the fine-tuning window of a longer preview period. Opening in June, when theatergoing momentum on Broadway tends to focus largely around the previous season’s fresh crop of Tony winners, also appears to have hurt the show’s chances.
Holler If Ya Hear Me will have its final performance on July 20, at one of Broadway’s larger venues positioned in the heart of Times Square, The Palace.