Former Los Angeles Laker and New York Knick, Carmelo Anthony, has joined as an executive producer on the new stage musical The Harder They Come, along with longtime business partner Asani Swan, joining original producers Joshua Blum and Bruce Miller from New York-based commercial and film production company Washington Square Films on the project.
Anthony and Swan co-founded the basketball star’s production company Creative 7, which will also serve as an executive producer on the show. The heralded musical serves as the theatrical debut for Washington Square Films, whose nearly two-decade tenure has included producing festival hits like The Sound of Silence (Peter Sarsgaard, Rashida Jones), Golden Exits (Jason Schwartzman, Chloë Sevigny) and All is Lost (Robert Redford) as well as award-winning commercials for top brands such as Coca-Cola, HBO, Dollar Shave Club and Spectrum, among numerous others.
The Harder They Come tells the story of Ivan, a young singer who arrives in Kingston, Jamaica, eager to become a star. After falling in love and cutting a record deal with a powerful music mogul, Ivan soon learns the game is rigged. As he becomes increasingly defiant, he finds himself in a battle that threatens not only his life but the very fabric of Jamaican society. Watch below to view a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the production:
Producing The Harder They Come came as a natural next step for Washington Square Films, whose ethos for supporting platform-agnostic storytellers has been a foundation of the company since its inception. As an NYC-based production company located in the city’s bustling Bowery neighborhood, a debut at the Public Theater just blocks away from its offices felt like a serendipitous entree into a theatrical production.
Notes Washington Square Films Founder Joshua Blum, “We are excited for what is next for ‘The Harder They Come,’ which has been received so positively by audiences throughout our run at the Public. Carmelo had such incredible enthusiasm for the project right off that bat and he’s already come in with a lot of great ideas. It feels like the perfect match.”
Anthony joins the production after its celebrated run Off-Broadway at the Public Theater, the same venue that premiered Hamilton. The Harder They Come played to sold-out houses and was extended twice, the production also most recently earned three Lucille Lortel nominations for “Outstanding Choreography” for Edgar Godineaux, “Outstanding Lead Performer in a Musical” for Natey Jones, and “Outstanding Feature Performer in a Musical” for Jacob Ming-Trent. The Lucille Lortel Awards recognizes the best in Off-Broadway theatre.
The show is next eyeing a regional theater to continue to refine the production before eventually setting sights on mounting a Broadway production. The adaptation of the 1972 Jamaican crime film was penned by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks, best known for her work on Topdog/Underdog. The film and musical both feature music from legendary Reggae icon Jimmy Cliff. Justine Henzell is also involved in the production, whose father Perry Henzell co-wrote and directed the movie.
Anthony and Asani decided to pursue involvement in the new musical’s continued journey after seeing an early performance, having been struck by the strong music, vibrant choreography and performances from the entire cast.
Blum and Miller will work with Anthony and Asani to continue to evolve the musical past its Off-Broadway run. Co-Producers include Diane and Joseph Steinberg, Cheryl Wiesenfeld, Stephen and Ruth Hendel, Nnamdi Asomugha and Jonathan Baker, and Laurence Carty. The show was directed by Tony Taccone and co-directed by Sergio Trujillo.