When Celebs Hit Broadway

Boy George's TabooWENN

Sometimes, music and movies just aren’t enough for the public when it comes to celebrity consumption. In those situations, things are taken to the stage for some hardcore dramatic renderings.

For the 2013-2014 Broadway season, a new musical inspired by Tupac’s music will be hitting Broadway. Kenny Leon, the director of Broadway shows like Fences and The Mountaintop, will be directing Holler If Ya Hear Me, an original anti-violence story based on Todd Kreidler’s book of the same name, set to Tupac’s music. Also, hitting Broadway soon will be a musical based on Channing Tatum’s semi-biographical Magic Mike, because who doesn’t want to see a bunch of half-naked studs singing and dancing on a stage.

Here are a few other celebrity-inspired musicals that have taken over Broadway.

The First (based on Jackie Robinson)
The First was a baseball musical which, believe it or not, is actually not an oxymoron. Inspired by the success of the baseball musical Damn Yankees, 1981’s The First centered on Jackie Robinson’s first year playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers as a second baseman. Robinson definitely deserved to be celebrated, as he was the first African-American to join the MLB, but the musical only lasted for thirty-seven shows.  Although the reviews for the show weren’t exactly fawning, critics got to get a few good zingers in, courtesy of the title. Examples include: “[The musical] is not exactly hitting a home run” and “The First never gets to first base” (*gong*).

Marilyn: An American Fable  (based on Marilyn Monroe)
Since her death in 1962, Marilyn Monroe has been one of the most exploited celebrated stars in the entertainment world. Whether it’s mediocre movies on her life or hideous tattoos on the forearms of starlets (here’s looking at you, Megan Fox), the overuse of Monroe most likely has her rolling in her grave so much that she’s making herself chapatis by now. Originally on Broadway in 1983, this musical claimed to be an “authorized” version of Monroe’s life – even though the musical had a happy ending. Someone should probably let the producers know that 5 minutes after the happy ending, a couple of Kennedys walked in and…

Lennon (based on John Lennon) 
Debuted in 2005, the Yoko Ono-produced Lennon was essentially a John Lennon tribute extravaganza that focused on his life, Yoko Ono, his music, Yoko Ono, his influence, and Yoko Ono. The show was notable for not making any mention of the Beatles, and Ono justified this by stating that the musical was about Lennon, not the Beatles. Of course, the only reason why anyone even knows or cares about John Lennon is because of the Beatles, but hey, whatever works. The musical also mysteriously left out any mention of Lennon’s 18-month fling with his and Ono’s personal assistant May Pang during the time that he and Ono were separated. But it is about his life, promise!

Coco (based on Coco Chanel)
In her first and only Broadway musical, Katherine Hepburn played Coco Chanel in 1969’s Coco. Although critics weren’t too impressed with Hepburn’s musical prowess (hint: she had none) and gave the musical mediocre to unimpressed reviews, the show was a financial success, selling out nearly everywhere it was featured. Coco looked at Chanel’s return to the world of haute couture after fifteen years of retirement in 1953 Paris, with her arch nemesis being an insanely stereotypical gay designer trying to take down Chanel’s designer realness.

Taboo (based on Boy George)
Taboo was based on the friendship of Boy George and legendary club promoter Leigh Bowery against the backdrop of the hedonistic New Romantic scene of the early 1980s. Premiering in 2002 in London, the musical was apparently so awesome to Rosie O’Donnell that she had to have a piece of it. She partnered up with Boy George to bring the show to Broadway, but after getting some pretty derisive reviews (even during rehearsals!), the musical eventually came to an end after 100 shows. Despite reportedly losing her entire $10 million investment in the project, O’Donnell is still interested in bringing the show back to Broadway again.

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