The world premiere of The Harder They Come officially opened Off-Broadway at The Public Theater's Newman Theater March 15, and the reviews are in. The limited run will continue through April 9. Tony Taccone and Sergio Trujillo are at the helm with Edgar Godineaux choreographing.
The new work is adapted by Pulitzer winner Suzan-Lori Parks, from the classic Jamaican film, working from producer-director Perry Henzell and Trevor Rhone's screenplay. Songs, which also include gospel and folk music, are by Jimmy Cliff. The story centers on 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 cast includes Jeannette Bayardelle as Daisy, J. Bernard Calloway as Preacher, Andrew Clarke as Lyle, Dominique Johnson as Jose, Natey Jones as Ivan, Dudney Joseph Jr as Ray, Meecah as Elsa, Jacob Ming-Trent as Pedro, and Ken Robinson as Hilton. They're joined by an ensemble comprising Shawn Bowers, Jamal Christopher Douglas, Dana Marie Ingraham, Chelsea-Ann Jones, Morgan McGhee, Alysha Morgan, Housso Semon, Sir Brock Warren, and Christopher Henry Young, with understudies Eean Sherrod Cochran, Tyla Collier, Tiffany Francès, Garfield Hammonds, Dwight Xaveir Leslie, Denver Andre Taylor, and Carla Woods rounding out the company.
Read the reviews below.
Harper's Bazaar (Ariana Marsh)
New York Stage Review (David Finkle, Sandy MacDonald)
New York Theater (Jonathan Mandell)
New York Theatre Guide (Allison Considine)
The New York Times (Jesse Green)*
TheaterMania (Kenji Fujishima)
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Playbill will continue to update this list as reviews come in.
The production also features music supervision, orchestrations, and arrangements by Kenny Seymour, music direction by John Bronston, scenic design by Clint Ramos and Diggle, costume design by Emilio Sosa, lighting design by Japhy Weideman, sound design by Walter Trarbach, projection design by Hana S. Kim, wig and makeup design by Earon Chew Nealey, prop management by Claire M. Kavanah, fight and intimacy direction by Rocio Mendez, dialect coaching by Dwight Bacquie, and music contracting by Kristy Norter. Jeffrey Rodriguez is the production stage manager, with Amanda Michaels and Alex Murphy serving as stage managers.
The soundtrack of the 1972 film is credited with popularizing reggae music across the globe, and in 2021 was preserved by the Library of Congress as "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant." This is the second adaptation of the film to the stage, following a British attempt in the early 2000s.