Producer Lia Vollack has announced that the electrifying and seminal musical play Melvin Van Peebles’ Ain’t Supposed to Die a Natural Death will return to Broadway for the very first time since its 1971 premiere production. Directed by Tony Award winner Kenny Leon, Ain’t Supposed to Die a Natural Death will open on Broadway in 2022. Filmmaker Mario Van Peebles, Melvin’s eldest son and longtime collaborator, will serve as Creative Producer.
Featuring a book and score by Mr. Van Peebles, Ain’t Supposed to Die a Natural Death blends early hip hop and spoken word, jazz and blues, humor and pain to offer a raucous celebration of – and clear-eyed look at – America.
On October 20, 1971, Ain’t Supposed to Die a Natural Death had its legendary opening night and perfectly captured the Van Peebles zeitgeist as it stunned its first Broadway audiences with its heightened, no-holds-barred depiction – equal parts thrilling and intense – of the largely unseen corridors of urban life. Broadway – and popular music – would never be the same.
Ain’t Supposed to Die a Natural Death went on to earn seven 1972 Tony Award nominations, including Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, and Best Original Score. Given an unprecedented (and unrepeated) more-than nine-minute performance slot on that year’s Tony Awards telecast, the original cast delivered what Time Out New York later called, “The most shocking performance in the history of the Tonys.” Its now-iconic score, steeped in funk, soul, jazz, and blues, is widely considered to have been a groundbreaking precursor to rap and hip-hop.