Russell Simmons is developing a hip-hop musical that will draw songs from hip-hop’s “golden age” from between the mid-1980s and the mid-1990s, in the same way that “Rock of Ages” pulled tunes from the hard-rock classics of the ’80s.
Simmons has teamed with “Rock of Ages” producer Big Block/Scott Prisand for the show, which aims to conjure the same fun, concert-like vibe that helped sustain the nearly six-year run of “Rock of Ages” on Broadway. The original story of “The Scenario” will be written by Dan Charnas, who wrote the book “The Big Payback: The History of the Business of Hip-Hop.”
The attachment of Simmons, who’ll produce through Def Pictures, lends “The Scenario” some notable cred. As the founder of Def Jam Recordings in 1984, he’s credited with playing a major role in hip-hop’s rise to the mainstream. He also founded the Def Comedy franchise in 1989, and he produced and conceived 2002 Broadway outing “Russell Simmons Def Poetry Jam.”
Simmons and Big Block hope to get “The Scenario” into New York in late 2016, although they aren’t necessarily targeting Broadway. “Rock of Ages,” for instance, played an Off Broadway run before it shifted to Broadway; the producers could also consider putting the production in a nontraditional space outside the typical Broadway box.
“The Scenario” is being developed by a team of producers that includes Simmons, Def Pictures/Jake Stein, Big Block/Prisand, Scott Benson, Tom Pellegrini and Jamie Bendell, Brian Sher and Stella Bulichnikov.