It’s no secret that “Holler If Ya Hear Me,” the Broadway musical that incorporates the songs of Tupac Shakur, is having trouble drawing crowds — just take a look at show’s weekly box office tally. That explains why director Kenny Leon, fresh off his Tony win for “A Raisin in the Sun,” kicked off the opening night performance of “Holler” with a speech encouraging the audience — “I know some of you are friends, some of you are enemies,” he cracked — to tell everyone they know about the show.
But it’s also true that the crowds that are coming to “Holler” are fans — big fans. The show’s collaborators have been surprised at the breadth of the demographic that responds to Shakur’s work.
“‘California Love’ comes on, and you can tell: Everybody, that was their jam,” said star Christopher Jackson, referring to one of Tupac’s best-known hits, at the opening night party at Gotham Hall. “I see 50-year-old men wiping their eyes when that song’s over.”
Leon pointed out that Tupac also gets a response from kids who weren’t even born when Shakur died. “My kid from ‘Raisin in the Sun,’ he’s about 12, and he’s seen it five times,” he said of the young actor in ‘Raisin.’ “Five times! And he’s paid for four of them!”
(Pictured: Christopher Jackson, Kenny Leon and Ben Thompson at the “Holler If Ya Hear Me” opening night afterparty at Gotham Hall)