The Karate Kid – The Musical, with a book by original screenwriter Robert Mark Kamen and music and lyrics by Drew Gasparini (Smash), will begin a limited engagement on May 25, 2022, in a Stages St. Louis production at The Kirkwood Performing Arts Center just outside St. Louis, MO. The musical will run through June 26.
The production will be directed by Japanese director Amon Miyamoto (Pacific Overtures). Casting for the musical has not yet been announced.
“When I was a young man, my life was forever changed by traditional Okinawan Karate and the instructors who taught it to me,” Kamen said in a statement. “The Karate Kid is my love letter to both those masters and their practice. Karate teaches, above all, to follow your dreams no matter what obstacles are put in front of you, and that is the spirit with which all of us are approaching this show.”
Said Gasparini, “As I am sure anyone my age can relate to, The Karate Kid has been a major touchstone in my life. It is such an incredible honor to be able to give a musical voice to such an iconic story that means so much to so many people across the globe. It’s a responsibility I don’t take lightly, and one I am relishing every second of.”
In addition to Miyamoto, the creative team will include such Broadway stalwarts as set designer Derek McLane (Moulin Rouge), costume designer Ayako Maeda, lighting designer Bradley King (Hadestown), and sound designer Kai Harada (The Band’s Visit). Orchestrations will be by John Clancy (Diana), and music direction and arrangements by Andrew Resnick (The Cher Show).
The show will be choreographed by MTV VMA nominees Keone and Mari Madrid.
The St. Louis engagement was announced by producers Naoya Kinoshita (Kinoshita Group), Kumiko Yoshii, and Michael Wolk.
Producer Yoshii called the St. Louis production “a creative bridge from Japan to NYC,” and that producers were “honored to begin the journey at Stages St. Louis next spring.”
Added Jack Lane, Stages St. Louis executive producer, “We cannot think of a better show to help launch not just Stages, but the St. Louis region, as a brand new pre-Broadway tryout destination.”
The original Karate Kid, directed by John G. Avildsen, starred Ralph Macchio, Pat Morita and Elisabeth Shue, with Macchio playing Daniel LaRusso, a bullied teenager schooled in self-defense, karate and life by Morita’s Mr. Miyagi.
The hit 1984 film started a franchise that would grow to include five movies, an animated television series, and Netflix’s Cobra Kai, which will premiere its fourth season in December 2021.
“Karate teaches that if you treat people with inner strength, humility, and the spirit of harmony, there will be no conflict,” said director Miyamoto. “It’s a message that I think we need to hear even more now than we did in 1984, and I am so excited to have the chance to modernize and musicalize this beloved story for what will be the world’s first karate action musical. My deepest hope is that our work resonates with audiences all over the world, spreading the ideas of acceptance and inclusion — which are the opposite of division.”