Say goodbye to the Palace Theatre as you know it! According to the Wall Street Journal, the upcoming Broadway musical Holler If Ya Hear Me will bring major changes to the theater in the form of a $200,000 renovation. The restructuring will create a much more intimate atmosphere for the audience of the musical inspired by the lyrics of legendary rapper Tupac Shakur, which is set to begin preview performances on May 29.
The ground-level orchestra seats have been changed into stadium-style seating, often found in movie theaters, reducing the theater’s capacity from 1,740 to 1,120. The renovations will also extend the stage out past the proscenium arch, covering the orchestra pit. The production will have to return the theater to its original state when it shutters.
Director Kenny Leon hopes that these changes will drive home the idea that audiences “will feel that we know these young people, and they’re no different from whoever our children are.” Scenic designer Edward Pierce added, “everybody in those first few rows can basically high-five the actors. They’re just that close.”
Written by Todd Kreidler, the non-biographical story of Holler If Ya Hear Me focuses on two childhood friends living in a poverty-stricken Midwestern industrial city, struggling to realize their dreams. The production will feature songs from throughout the late rap icon's career, including "California Love," "Keep Ya Head Up," "Me Against the World" and, of course, the title song. The previously announced cast includes Tony winner Tonya Pinkins, Saul Williams, Christopher Jackson, Saycon Sengbloh, Ben Thompson, Tony nominee John Earl Jelks, Joshua Boone and Dyllon Burnside.