Melvin Van Peebles' Musical AIN'T SUPPOSED TO DIE A NATURAL DEATH to Open on Broadway

Kenny Leon, Melvin Van Peebles, Mario Van Peebles
March 22, 2021 6:00 PM

Producer Lia Vollack announced today 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 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.

"The songs on stage were mirroring the incidents that were happening in the streets,” said Van Peebles. The introduction of Van Peebles’ unique songwriting style to Broadway marked a turning point in the American musical artform, serving as a major influence for future Broadway sensations, including Bring in ‘da Noise, Bring in ‘da Funk; Rent; and many more.

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.

Additional Ain’t Supposed to Die a Natural Death production details, including the complete cast and additional creative team, will be announced at a later date.

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Zack Reiser

Zack Reiser has a passion for theatre, cooking, and music. With professional experience in various roles in the Broadway community, he could tell you how theatre works from the front of the house to the back of the stage. He’s been with the Theatrely team since 2019.