The Karate Kid is being developed as a musical for Broadway, with the 1984 film’s screenwriter Robert Mark Kamen penning the book and Drew Gasparini writing music and lyrics.
The project was announced today by producers Kinoshita Group, Kumiko Yoshii, and Michael Wolk. The Karate Kid will be directed by Japanese director Amon Miyamoto and choreographed by MTV VMA nominees Keone and Mari Madrid.
In a statement, Kamen said, in part, “Never in my wildest dreams did I think this little movie would reach across generations the way it has. And beyond my wildest dreams did I think what started out as a love letter to my devotion to Okinawan Karate and the man who taught me would become a full-blown Broadway musical. But here it is. Here I am. And here is hoping that what comes to the stage brings the same joy and relevance The Karate Kid has brought to countless kids and their parents for the past 35 years.”
Said director Amon Miyamoto, “Many people love Broadway musicals for ‘escape’ – but I love them because they provide insight into how we should live our lives. I was inspired to do a stage adaptation of The Karate Kid because it tells a story we need in this on-going ‘Age of Division’ as our society becomes increasingly globalized. The sweet contradiction of The Karate Kid is that the real nature of karate is, as the show says, ‘not for attack.’ Not to hurt, not to win, but to let opposing energies play out and come in grace to a conclusion that allows dignity and respect for all.”
The director continued, “I’m excited to show this dynamic with a visual and movement style unseen on Broadway. I want to introduce a new generation to this powerful story – through the immediate, visceral spell a good musical can cast through theatricality, music, and dance.”
The Karate Kid will feature set design by Tony winner Derek McLane (Broadway’s Moulin Rouge!). Additional information, including production dates and casting, will be announced later.
The original 1984 movie starred Ralph Macchio, Noriyuki “Pat” Morita, and Elisabeth Shue, and was followed by four sequels, an animated television series and the current YouTube Premium series Cobra Kai.
“Our production team is focused on bringing Robert Kamen’s iconic story to a new generation in a way that really speaks to them,” said producer Kumiko Yoshii. “Robert’s story is our Bible, but we are reinventing how it is told so that it must be experienced live, in the theater.”
Miyamoto has directed musicals and operas throughout Asia, Europe and America. Composer Gasparini is also working on musical adaptations of the film Night Shift and, with writing partner Alex Brightman, adaptations of It’s Kind of a Funny Story and the children’s novel The Whipping Boy. Last year, he wrote the score for Skittles’ Super Bowl advertising stunt, Skittles Commercial: The Musical starring Michael C. Hall, chosen by Forbes as the best Super Bowl ad of 2019.
Keone and Mari Madrid have choreographed videos for Billie Eilish, Justin Bieber and BTS, as well as TV’s World of Dance, So You Think You Can Dance, Dancing with the Stars and The Ellen Show.
The martial arts classic would be the latest in a spate of movies adapted as Broadway musicals. Recent examples include Beetlejuice, Tootsie, Mrs. Doubtfire, and Sing Street, with The Devil Wears Prada, The Flamingo Kid, Bull Durham, Diner and Vacation, among others, in development.
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