Just over a month after its June 19 Broadway premiere, Kenny Leon’s Tupac Shakur-inspired musical, “Holler if Ya Hear Me” announced its closing, sparking a number of questions about the production’s limited run.
But the show’s cast reportedly foresaw this fate in the weeks leading up to their final show, according to star, Saul Williams.
“We've known what was going on all along. Every day at rehearsal, Kenny Leon was saying, ‘Let's be very clear with the fact that this play is probably going to be hated coming out the gates,’" Williams admitted during an interview with Rolling Stone.
“We see how full or empty the house is every night. Twenty-six thousand people have seen the play and, of those people, we've had fucking standing ovations every night and tremendous support from the people that have seen it. But the producer, Eric Gold, said to me, ‘We expect that the first two months are going to be really difficult.’"
Earlier this month the New York Times reported the production grossed $144,773 during the week of July 6, playing to just 16 percent of The Palace Theatre’s maximum capacity. Williams added that negative reviews ultimately impacted the show from reaching its full potential.
“One of our producers came in really angry because he had spoken to one of the TKTS people [who man Broadway ticket-selling booths] — not saying she was a producer — and asked them, ‘What about Holler? Should I see that?’ And the response of the person who is supposed to guide tourists to plays was like, ‘It's a bit of a downer. It's not necessarily as fun as’ whatever other play they mentioned,” he explained.
“Then she approached another one and that person was like, ‘Oh, it got really bad reviews.’ We started a street team at the last minute to counter those TKTS people who are really supposed to be promoting everything on Broadway. I also cannot go without saying that there was something deeply embedded in a lot of the reviews that went deeper than just a dislike of the play.”
Read more of Saul Williams’ Rolling Stone interview here.