Backstage on Broadway: ‘iLLA’ blends classical and contemporary for new hip-hop musical

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Could it be the next Hamilton?

Well, in this week’s Backstage on Broadway, Tamsen Fadal gives us a sneak peek at another hip-hop musical in the making.

Rap, hip-hop and ballet? Classical meets contemporary in the new musical iLLA.

“iLLA means to be better, to be cooler, and to be more awesome than the next,” Ronve O'Daniel said.

It follows a guy named Prince, who's trying to breakout of his life as a dancer.

“[He] wants to be a rap, hip-hop star," O'Daniel explained. "It’s him figuring out how to be in this [new] world being a ballet dancer while also having a dysfunctional home-life and being in a love triangle.”

“Prince is pretty much like everybody’s cousin, or little brother just quirky, awkward, and fun," Titus Makin Jr. smiled.

Taking on the leading role is Titus Makin Jr., you may recognize him from shows like 'Glee' and 'Pretty Little Liars'.

“I was never much of a rapper," he said. "I appreciate rap, and I can listen to it but I’m the type of person who has never learned the lyrics, when it comes on I’m like blah blah , just trying to keep up!"

Helping him get up to speed is Ronve O'Daniel, who wrote the story and lyrics.

“I have a BFA in musical theater and I’ve been rapping since I was nine,” he said. “It was just two different worlds I didn’t know could co-exist.

iLLA started as a one-man show in 2014 but has quickly blossomed. The cast will be performing in the esteemed New York Musical Festival this weekend.

“We’re doing a concert version, so it’s all music and a little bit of the book so you can still walk away knowing what the story is about,” O'Daniel explained.

They credit the mega-hit Hamilton for paving the way for a production like this, but believe the message and mix of styles make it one-of-a-kind.

“It tells a story of self love, being comfortable with yourself, and I think that’s so relevant right now,” he said.

You catch their performance Friday, 7/29 at 5pm, Sunday (8/31) at 9pm and Tuesday (8/02) at 9pm.

Click here for more information and to purchase tickets.

 

Produced by: Kim Pestalozzi