The popular 80s film The Karate Kid hit the screens in 1984, where it became one of the decade’s most beloved films, an inspirational tale about overcoming one’s fears, taking on the bullies of the world, and doing it in a positive way. Starring Ralph Macchio, Noriyuki “Pat” Morita, and Elisabeth Shue, the film became an instant cultural phenomenon, earning rave reviews and racking up nearly $100 million at the box office. Now that iconic story will be heading to Broadway as a new musical.
Robert Mark Kamen, who created the story for the 1984 film from Columbia Pictures, will also be writing the book for the stage adaptation. Her shared his thoughts on The Karate Kid’s Broadway future: “On June 13, 1982, my daughter Alessandra (Ali with an i) was born. Two days later when she arrived home from the hospital, I sat down with her in one of those little rocking cradles at my side, and began to write The Karate Kid. A year later, in October of 1983, principal photography began. A year after that, in June of 1984, exactly two years after I wrote the script, the film was in theaters. And there it stayed for nearly six months. Five sequels and two television shows later, amazingly the characters and the story still resonates with audiences the way it did when the film first was released. 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. Go figure.”
Helming The Karate Kid for the stage will be director Amon Miyamoto. Weighing in on the news, Miyamoto expressed the following: “ 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. 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 also come to life with a score by Drew Gasparini. An award-winning composer/lyricist and singer/songwriter, Gasparini is also working on Night Shift for Warner Bros Theatre Ventures. Alongside writing partner Alex Brightman, Drew is writing musical adaptations of It’s Kind of a Funny Story for Universal Theatrical Group, and the children’s novel The Whipping Boy. In 2019 Drew wrote the score for the highly publicized Super Bowl advertising stunt, Skittles Commercial: The Musical starring Michael C. Hall. The show went on to win several advertising awards and was voted #1 best Super Bowl ad of 2019 by Forbes. His new musical We Aren’t Kids Anymore will be releasing its cast album this spring.
The Karate Kid will feature choreography by MTV VMA nominees Keone and Mari Madrid, and set design by Tony and two-time Emmy Award-winner Derek McLane. Additional information, including production dates and casting, will be announced at a later date.
Mark Robinson is the author of the two-volume encyclopedia The World of Musicals, The Disney Song Encyclopedia, and The Encyclopedia of Television Theme Songs. His latest book, Sitcommentary: The Television Comedies That Changed America, released on October 15. He maintains a theater and entertainment blog at markrobinsonwrites.com.
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