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Tupac Shakur musical 'Holler If Ya Hear Me' set for Broadway

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After the January closure of Annie, Broadway’s Palace Theatre has found its next tenant.

Holler If Ya Hear Me, a new musical featuring the music of rapper Tupac Shakur, will open on Broadway at the Palace on June 19. Preview performances for the brand-new show begin May 26. Casting for the show has not yet been announced.

Written by Todd Kreidler and directed by Tony nominee Kenny Leon (who will also direct Denzel Washington in this season’s forthcoming A Raisin in the Sun revival), Holler If Ya Hear Me is an original, non-biographical story about two friends in the inner-city in the Midwest.

For what it’s worth, the musical takes its title from an autobiographical song by the late rapper off his second solo album, released in 1993. In the music video, a girl witnesses her father’s death, finds money to buy a gun, and subsequently rallies her young friends to ostensibly avenge his death. The show does not purport to tell the story of Tupac Shakur, but will use his poetic music and lyrics to offer “a window into the realities of the streets still relevant today.”

The packed design team includes choreographer Wayne Cilento, set designer David Gallo, costumer Reggie Ray, and lighting designer Mike Baldassari. Shakur’s mother, Afeni, will serve as one of the show’s producers.

'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time' coming to Broadway

The U.K. play The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, based on the bestselling book, will transfer to Broadway this fall. This follows a successful West End run for the show, which received seven Olivier Awards this year, including Best New Play.

The production is directed by Marianne Elliott, and Simon Stephens adapted Mark Haddon’s book. For those that haven’t read the book, the story follows fifteen-year-old Christopher, a brilliant but socially inept boy who is accused of killing a neighbor’s dog.  But Christopher’s attempts to find out who really committed the crime end up changing his life forever.

Casting information for the Broadway version hasn’t been announced, but the show will open this fall at the Barrymore Theatre.

First look at Zach Braff (and company) in Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway' musical -- EXCLUSIVE

Woody Allen’s beloved 1994 crime-comedy caper Bullets Over Broadway is making the big leap to the real Broadway stage in a world premiere musical, helmed by five-time Tony winner Susan Stroman (The Producers).

Here’s why you ought to be excited: Stroman has enlisted a truly dazzling cast of stage veterans to join Scrubs alum Zach Braff in his Broadway debut. Braff plays David Shayne, a naïve playwright who finds himself embroiled with the mob when a gangster’s talentless girlfriend (Masters of Sex’s Heléne Yorke) tramples into the cast of his Broadway show. Joining the onstage fun are Marin Mazzie as the alcoholic Helen Sinclair, Brooks Ashmanskas as gluttonous leading man Warner Purcell, Nick Cordero as interfering gangster Cheech, Vincent Pastore as deep-pocketed mafioso Nick Valenti, Lenny Wolpe as producer Julian Marx, and Betsy Wolfe as David’s neglected girlfriend Ellen.

EW’s got the first exclusive photo of the cast all spiffed up in full costume (designed by Tony-winner William Ivey Long, no less) plus your sneak peek at video from behind the scenes of the glitzy photo shoot, introduced by Braff. One thing is quickly apparent: Bullets Over Broadway will have no shortage of the old school glamour that made Allen’s much-loved movie such a visual treat.
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Carly Rae Jepsen to play Cinderella on Broadway

The “Call Me Maybe” queen is officially royalty.

Pop singer Carly Rae Jepsen will make her Broadway debut beginning February 4 playing the title role in Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella, replacing original star Laura Osnes (who earned a much-deserved Tony nomination for the role).

The 28-year-old singer has signed on for a 12-week run, two weeks longer than fellow Broadway debut Fran Drescher, who joins the show (also on Feb. 4) as Cinderella’s stepmother Madame.

“Broadway has been a dream of mine since I was a little girl and I look forward to working with this incredibly talented cast to tell this classic tale,” Jepsen said in a press statement. “These last few years have been a real fairy tale come to life for me, so I feel especially blessed to play this part and be reminded that you must never stop dreaming!”

Jepsen’s theater credits include high school productions of Annie, Grease and The Wiz in British Columbia. The star posted her own excited announcement of her casting on Instagram.

The new Broadway staging of Cinderella re-tells the iconic princess tale with the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein tunes and a new book by Douglas Carter Beane. The show opened on March 3, 2013 at the Broadway Theatre and earned nine Tony Award nominations, winning one for costume design.

Hear Idina Menzel's 'Here I Go' from the new Broadway musical 'If/Then' -- EXCLUSIVE

If you still haven’t gotten Idina Menzel’s soaring Frozen showstopper “Let It Go” out of your head (and rightly so), then we have bad news: we’ve got another Menzel track that you might not be able to stop humming.

One of spring’s most anticipated Broadway musicals is the newest entry from Next to Normal team Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey, who have reunited with director Michael Greif for their original musical If/Then. The show will mark the Broadway return of Menzel, who hasn’t graced the main stem stage since her Tony-winning turn as Elphaba in Wicked.

If/Then stars Menzel as Elizabeth, a woman on the verge of turning 40 who moves to Manhattan in the hopes of starting over in every aspect of her life. Below, EW’s got an exclusive sneak peek at Menzel and her onstage romantic interest James Snyder singing “Here I Go” during the show’s sitzprobe (the first time the singers perform with the orchestra in rehearsal). Check it out: READ FULL STORY

Broadway Q&A: Fantasia Barrino on sexy jazz and learning to tap dance in 'After Midnight'

You definitely know Fantasia Barrino from her breakout days on American Idol, but the talented Grammy winner is now far beyond the reach of reality TV — instead, she’s tearing up the stage and delivering a truly show-stopping performance in her second endeavor on Broadway in the new musical After Midnight, celebrating the world of the Harlem jazz clubs of old.

Barrino is the first in a rotating guest star roster, meaning that she’ll only be dazzling audiences for a few months before k.d. lang joins the show (Feb. 11 – Mar. 9) followed by Babyface and Toni Braxton (Mar. 18 – 30). There’s no doubt that the revue is a fun ride for the audience, but we wanted to know whether Barrino was having as much fun onstage as it looks. And the answer, unsurprisingly, is yes.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What do you love about this show and what gets you excited when you think about what you’re a part of?
FANTASIA BARRINO: I love everything about this show, let me say that. Everything! The dancers, Dormeshia [Sumbry-Edwards] and Jared [Grimes]; the simple things like “Creole Love Call,” how beautiful that is. It has no words but just hearing [Carmen Ruby Floyd] sing it gave me so many different emotions. I was like that the entire play! READ FULL STORY

Seven must-see Broadway (and Off Broadway) shows you can ACTUALLY get tickets to this December

If you, like my family, have made plans to head to New York this December but have not planned far enough ahead to, say, buy tickets to a Broadway show, you’re in luck: there are plenty of others like you who are spontaneous theatergoers. Well, fly-by-night patrons in search of available, affordable, AND quality tickets need not worry about getting last pick, a la an unfortunate dodgeball game or holiday dinner behind greedier and more robust relatives.

EW’s stage team has highlighted seven shows (four Broadway, three Off Broadway) that you should — and more importantly can – still get tickets to upon your visit these next few weeks in December. They’re sensational shows, only made better by the fact that you don’t necessarily have to wait in the cold at TKTS or book months in advance to enjoy the experiences that people may still be fond of next year. (Also, stick around EW.com next week for our editor’s Top 10 stage picks of 2013!)

Big Fish (EW’s Grade: B+)
You only have a few more weeks to catch this extraordinarily inventive and heartstring-tugging love letter to the grand traditions of musical theater (with the production values of 2013 thrown in, of course) before it closes December 29. Two-time Tony winner Norbert Leo Butz is utterly mesmerizing, as are the supporting cast (like the dynamite Kate Baldwin, whose name you’ll be hearing more and more) and an old-fashioned score by Andrew Lippa that will have you humming for days. READ FULL STORY

Ten things you missed when a New York theater put on 'Hit List' -- a musical from 'Smash'

Smash lives!!

Kinda. Sorta. Well, not really. But for a few brief, shining moments on Dec. 9 and 10, a gaggle of alumni from NBC’s failed musical experiment banded together to put on a show: a concert version of Hit List, the hip downtown musical that tried to wrest our attention from Bombshell in season 2.

As fans (and, yes, hate-watchers) know, in the context of the series, that attempt was largely unsuccessful — even if Hit List did go on to win a bunch of fake Tony awards. But in a small, moodily lit cabaret, when performed uninterrupted for an audience stacked with Smash partisans and Broadway insiders, something completely unexpected happened: Hit List worked. Sure, the show wasn’t exactly the groundbreaking edgefest Smash kept trying to insist it was — and it also wasn’t the self-referential campfest I was hoping it might be. But as a simple fable about a beautiful, fame-hungry jerk and the talented boy who inexplicably loves her, I could see this thing having legs beyond its three-performances-only run. (If and only if its writers can work out the rights issues with NBC, which might be impossible.)

Want more details? Gather round, pour yourselves a few martinis, and get comfy; the show will go on… right now! Here’s everything you missed by not going to Hit List:

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Fran Drescher joins Broadway's 'Cinderella' as wicked stepmother

So much for Flushing, Queens! Fran Drescher is taking up residence in a decidedly more royal atmosphere come February.

Beloved Nanny star Drescher will join the cast of Broadway’s magical musical Cinderella as Ella’s wicked stepmother Madame, making her Broadway debut on February 4 for a ten-week run through April 13, 2014. Drescher succeeds Harriet Harris, who originated the role when the show opened in March 2013 at the Broadway Theatre.

The currently running production of Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella features a slightly modernized take on the classic princess story, with a new book by Douglas Carter Beane and a pitch-perfect performance as the iconic damsel-turned-debutante by Tony nominee Laura Osnes. It’s worth noting that the perennially nasty stepmother has also been re-invented, but you’ll have to see Drescher to find out how her Madame transcends the typical lentils-in-the-fireplace bitchery.

Drescher will make her Broadway debut in the role, but she has been on the New York stage before, notably in Neil LaBute’s Some Girl(s), The Exonerated, and Love, Loss, and What I Wore.

Leighton Meester to make Broadway debut in 'Of Mice and Men' with James Franco and Chris O'Dowd

Leighton Meester is going from the Upper East Side to the California country.

The former Gossip Girl starlet has joined the cast of the upcoming Broadway revival of Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck’s literary classic about migrant field workers who seek new prospects of success and the American dream during the Great Depression. Previously announced stars James Franco and Chris O’Dowd will also make their debuts as George and Lennie.

Meester will play Curley’s wife, the beauty-obsessed youth who tempts the duo while also incurring the jealous wrath of her hard-headed husband Curley. Additional casting for the roles of Curley and ranch hands Slim, Candy, and the Boss (among others) have not yet been announced.

Tony winner Anna D. Shapiro (August: Osage County) will take the reins and direct the production, the first on Broadway in 40 years. The play will bow on March 19 at the Longacre Theatre, with official opening night set for April 16. Move quickly though: This limited engagement is strictly ending on July 27.

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