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Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks brings



NEW YORK — A world premiere musical adapts a classic Jamaican film to put its bittersweet story on stage.

The Public Theater pulses with rafter-raising reggae and splashes the stage with the look and feel of Kingston, Jamaica, in the early 1970s.

The new musical “The Harder They Come” is based on the cult film starring the legendary Jimmy Cliff.

“We don’t reinvent the wheel, but we do roll the wheel forward,” Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks said. “I feel like we’re taking it to the next level.”

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The musical’s book and some additional new songs are by Parks, whose “Topdog/Underdog” was revived on Broadway to great acclaim earlier this season.


Now with “The Harder They Come,” she shares a story of joy and pain, and faith and fame.

“We set it in 1972 in Kingston, Jamaica, and it’s still the story of Ivan, who comes to the city … to make a record,” Parks said. “So this idea of hero, ‘Hero Don’t Never Die,’ is very exciting to him. There is no song in the Jimmy Cliff catalog called ‘Hero Don’t Never Die,’ so I wrote a song. I can write something like ‘Topdog/Underdog.’ I can write something like a musical of ‘The Harder They Come.’ I’m serving the story.”

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An exhibit on the second floor of the Public Theater feature art inspired by the movie and the musical. It’s beautiful and bold work, just like the musical on the stage one story down.

The show has star-making performances, including from Natey Jones, who plays “Ivan.” Parks says he has a line that sums it all up perfectly.

“He says, ‘Explain to me why I’m wrong, when all I want is to hear my song.’ That’s the love that this play is sending to people,” Parks said.

“The Harder They Come” runs at the Public Theater through April 2.


Source: CBS


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