Casting is now complete for The Public Theater's world premiere of The Harder They Come, a musical adaptation of the classic Jamaican film. Previews will begin with a Joseph Papp Free Performance February 16, 2023, in the Newman Theater prior to an official opening March 15. The production will run through March 26.
The new musical is adapted by Pulitzer Prize winner Suzan-Lori Parks—from the screenplay co-written by producer-director Perry Henzell and Trevor Rhone—with songs by Jimmy Cliff. The soundtrack of the 1972 film is credited with popularizing reggae music across the globe, and was preserved by the Library of Congress as "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."
Tony Taccone directs the adaptation, with co-direction by Tony winner Sergio Trujillo and choreography by Edgar Godineaux.
Newly announced for the cast are Natey Jones (Get Up, Stand Up!; Death of a Salesman), who will be making his American stage debut in the lead role of Ivan, as well as J. Bernard Calloway as Preacher, plus ensemble members Sir Brock Warren and Christopher Henry Young and understudies Tyla Collier, Tiffany Francès, Garfield Hammonds, Denver Andre Taylor, and Carla Woods.
These actors join the previously reported Jeannette Bayardelle as Daisy, Andrew Clarke as Lyle, Dominique Johnson as Jose, Dudney Joseph Jr. as Ray, Meecah as Elsa, Jacob Ming-Trent as Pedro, and Ken Robinson as Hilton with ensemble members Shawn Bowers, Jamal Christopher Douglas, Dana Marie Ingraham, Chelsea-Ann Jones, Morgan McGhee, Alysha Morgan, and Housso Semon and understudy Dwight Xaveir Leslie.
Said Parks in an earlier statement, “The original film of The Harder They Come is gorgeous. It’s a story that needs to be told, heard, and seen. I’m thrilled to help share Ivan’s story and the amazing music of Jimmy Cliff with new audiences.”
The Harder They Come tells the story of Ivan, a singer who comes to Kingston, Jamaica, in search of stardom. After falling in love and cutting a record deal, Ivan learns the dark side of the music industry, and enters a battle that threatens both his life and the fabric of Jamaican society.
The musical has a book by Parks, music supervision, orchestrations, and arrangements by Kenny Seymour, scenic design by Clint Ramos and Diggle, costume design by Emilio Sosa, sound design by Walter Trarbach, projection design by Hana S. Kim, hair, wig, and makeup design by Earon Chew Nealey, prop management by Claire M. Kavanah, and music direction by John Bronston. Jeffrey Rodriguez will serve as production stage manager, and Amanda Michaels and Alex Murphy will serve as stage managers.
For more information, visit PublicTheater.org.