Treach, Flex Alexander, Gary Dourdan, and Big Daddy Kane, the cast behind “New Jack City,” the stage play, recently responded regarding the violent subtext.
The subtext of violence that undergirds “New Jack City” has never been a secret. Yet the presentation of such on stage has seemed to raise some concerns, especially in the context of the current social climate and the increase in violent tragedies in the hip-hop community. But despite the violent themes, the cast is sure that the purpose and desired outcome outweighs those factors.
According to TMZ, “Treach and the other costars are very aware of the real-life violence in hip hop today and hope their production of the classic 90’s film can scare the genre straight.”
“New Jack City:” The Stage Play
Je’Caryous Johnson brought the “New Jack City” play to the stage. Adapting hit cultural flicks for the stage is nothing new for Johnson. Earlier, Johnson also adapted “Set it Off” for the stage.
According to The Detroit News publication, a fellow actor suggested Treach, a member of the legendary hip-hop group Naughty by Nature, for the role of Nino Brown. And he got the part. This is no surprise as it is not the first time the artist has stretched his acting chops. But for this role, Treach (Anthony Criss) wanted to ensure he maintained the part’s integrity and came with his “A” game. He has given up a lot to offer the best performance. As the Detroit News publication also notes,
“He gave up weed to play the part, as well as drinking, and he stepped up his gym regimen as well.”
Treach: On The Stage Play
Treach has been open about his respect for the film and its story. But he hopes the stage play will foster a new understanding and deliver a resounding message for the current generation. According to TMZ, the performer noted,
“New Jack'” highlighted the brutality of the ’80s crack epidemic. It delivered the message, “that wasn’t the route to take.”
“New Jack City” (1991): The Film
“New Jack City” is a 1991 action-packed crime drama starring Wesley Snipes, Ice T, Allen Payne, Chris Rock, Mario Van Peebles, and more. It was a gritty and honest portrayal of the darker side of life in Harlem, New York, and an undeniably in-your-face story.
Nothing was reserved about this film, which meant some instances of extreme violence. But what else would a narrative about the infamous Nino Brown, ruthless crime lord, display?
A Lesser-Known Fact
Acclaimed director Mario Van Peebles directed the intense drama. His flair for framing a story was impeccable. Peebles’s artistry and talented cast made this film a success. Most fascinating was the impact of the film’s release.
According to Mental Floss, “Five days before “New Jack City” hit theaters, LAPD officers brutally beat Rodney King, and the footage came out to the world. As a result, new Jack City was cited as the cause of various disturbances and acts of violence in cities like New York and Los Angeles, which led to it being removed from theatres.”
A lede from the 1991 Harvard Crimson bears record and encapsulates the sentiments regarding the film and its release juxtaposed to the violence on the streets.
“Death and destruction accompanying the drug-gang movie “New Jack City” put the moviemaker on the defensive …”
Of course, the parallels are too hard to ignore. And, as the saying goes, history often repeats itself. Hopefully, not in this instance.
Upcoming Performance Dates
According to Broadway at The National, “New Jack City Live” will continue its run on Feb 12, 2023. And it will run until Feb 18.
However, viewing for those ages 18 and up is recommended. Undoubtedly this is due to the production’s explicit thematic material.
Weighting all the evidence, “New Jack City” is a work worth checking out. This is especially the case for fans of cultural reworks and stage productions.
Written by Renae Richardson
Edited by Nikita Serdiuk