Tupac musical closes: 'Only God can judge me' - but the audience had their say

$8m musical opened less than two months ago

Arts Correspondent

While hip-hop artist Tupac Shakur once rapped that “only God can judge me”, it appears the critics and audiences for a new musical based on his music have failed to take heed.

Holler If Ya Hear Me, which brought the murdered rapper’s poetry and music to Broadway, will close this weekend less than two months after opening.

The $8m (£4.7m) musical, which included the songs “California Love”, “Thugz Mansion” and “Dear Mama”, will close at New York’s Palace Theatre after just 55 performances, including 17 previews.

One of the lead producers Eric Gold said: “It saddens me that due to the financial burdens of Broadway, I was unable to sustain this production longer in order to give it time to bloom on Broadway.

“Tupac’s urgent socially important insights and the audiences’ nightly rousing standing ovations deserve to be experienced by the world.”

The production met with mixed reviews when it opened on 19 June and struggled to sell tickets, often playing to a half-full house.

The new musical did not follow the life of Tupac, who was the victim of a drive-by shooting in 1996 at the age of 25 and who is one of the best-selling music artists of all time. The publicity material described the story as “the world inside his music and lyrics… an original work that is at once a love story and a vivid picture of life in the streets.”

There were high hopes at the start. The creative team included the highly-rated Saul Williams and director Kenny Leon, who won a Tony Award for his production of A Raisin in the Sun last year, which starred Denzel Washington.

Billboard said the musical had “posted catastrophically low numbers” of audience members, even though the seating in the theatre had been reduced by 600 seats from its usual capacity of 1,700.

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