Russell Simmons is looking to bring 30 years of hip-hop to the Broadway stage. It has been reported that Simmons has snagged hip-hop historian Dan Charnas to write the script for The Scenario, a musical that will tell the story of the culture with original songs and hip-hop classics. Simmons will produce the musical along with Scott Prisand, who produced the Broadway play Rock of Ages.
“It’ll be half-concert, half-storytelling,” Simmons told Rolling Stone. “Something like this deserves a little bit of a love story and a little bit of “Fight the Power.” It’s not easy to write, but it’s easy to conceive of. It’s all the old people going to the Broadway theatre and seeing rebellious youth culture [laughs]. Two generations later, rap still has that rebelliousness; it hasn’t changed. At the same time, though, it’s successful pop culture. We’ve never had an American cultural phenomenon like this that has spanned so many generations.”
He says he got the idea after watching the rock musical Rock of Ages.
“I saw it and said, ‘What the f–k? This is exactly what I need to do.’ It was the most obvious thing in the world to me. I was inspired when I saw it. I must be getting old because what I’m doing now is right squarely in the middle of Broadway, which is squarely in the middle of America. It’s overdue.”
This isn’t his first stab at Broadway. The Queens native brought Def Poetry Jam to Broadway in 2002 and won a Tony Award for it.