From the minute the lights go up you know you are about to witness a tragedy. Holler if Ya Hear Me is inspired by the lyrics of Tupac and attempts to show a slice of life of some of the people living in urban neighborhoods. This is definitely a musical, but not in the traditional sense. In some respects, it’s a bit more operatic.
The story is slightly reminiscent of West Side Story, only more hackneyed. There are two rival gangs (one we never see). One of them is hell-bent on avenging the death of one of their “family”. The rhetoric heats up through the lyrics of Tupac’s songs and poetry. But, John (a very good Saul Williams) has recently been released from jail and doesn’t want to be a part of the violent solution. He seeks the path of change, but finds it hard to locate.
I’m sorry that the show is closing even though I didn’t love it because Holler If Ya Hear Me it is important on many levels. It is wildly different than most of the plays on or off Broadway. The rap-inspired music and hip-hop choreography are attractive to a new and younger audience and that is a good thing. Although there was a lot of complaining that this was not Tupac’s story, which is what people seemed to want to hear, Holler created roles for a lot of non-white actors and gave a voice to Tupac’s words.
As by now everyone knows that this play was not a financial success (it’s closing after just 6 weeks) but, I congratulate the producers, Todd Kreidler (who wrote the book) and the talented actors for their nerve to try something fresh and bold. If you can find a steeply discounted ticket, like I did, I would recommend seeing this before it closes. LAR
The Palace Theater, 1564 Broadway
Discounts available through TKTS, Theatermania & papering organizations
Running time: 2 hours, 30 minutes w/one intermission
Closes : 7/20/14