Space Jam: A '90s Jukebox Musical! Starring Michael (B.) Jordan
R. Kelly's "I Believe I Can Fly" didn't make the cut for our latest Dream Musical, but the Harlem Globetrotters did.
Broadway really likes turning movies into musicals. Some people love it. Some people hate it. We're in it for the dream-casting opportunities. So instead of waiting for the next Notebook, or Devil Wears Prada, or Almost Famous, or Mystic Pizza (seriously, there are a million of them), we picked one of our favorite titles and dreamed up not just a cast list, but a fully conceptualized, guaranteed blockbuster: Space Jam.
Broadway producers — feel free to thank us at the Tony Awards.
Space Jam was a pioneering work of the late 20th century, seamlessly blending biopic with cartoon adventure inside a story you might be surprised to remember is about a failing business venture in outer space.
On Earth, you have Michael Jordan — the slam-dunking star of the Chicago Bulls who makes a misguided career transition into baseball. Meanwhile, a few light-years away, Mr. Swackhammer (who chain-smokes cigars like any worthwhile capitalist villain) is losing oodles of money on his crummy amusement park, Moron Mountain. The Looney Toons are the attraction Swackhammer needs to boost business, so he sends his minuscule minions, the Nerdlucks, to the Warner Brothers dimension (a colorful precursor to the Upside Down of Stranger Things) to kidnap Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, and the rest of their famous pals and turn them into theme park entertainers (working theory: Space Jam was actually a veiled takedown of Disneyland hiring practices).
The Toons, of course, outsmart their teeny-weeny captors and gamble their freedom on a basketball game — a smart idea until the Nerdlucks steal the skills and girth of basketball power players Charles Barkley, Shawn Bradley, Patrick Ewing, Larry Johnson, and Muggsy Bogues, thus becoming the "Monstars" (a pun we can still appreciate 23 years later). Who can help the Toons defeat this team of beasts? It's 1996, so only Michael Jordan, of course — with a weird assist by Bill Murray. Watch Warner Brothers align itself with anti-commercialism while MJ and the Tune Squad play for their lives — all to a soundtrack of your favorite socially sanctioned '90s pop hits.
Get ready, millennials. This is the biographical jukebox you always knew you wanted, wrapped in a Broadway vehicle the Harlem Globetrotters never knew they needed.
Editor's Note: In light of recent events, R. Kelly's "I Believe I Can Fly" will be replaced by the theme from Greatest American Hero.
Book by Michael Jordan
Directed by Tina Landau
Choreography by Julianne Hough
Additional material and dramaturgy by Pinky and the Brain
Michael Jordan – Michael B. Jordan
Mr. Swackhammer – Billy Eichner
Stan Podolak (MJ's publicist and personal assistant) – Brooks Ashmanskas
Bugs Bunny – Alex Brightman
Lola Bunny – Patti Murin
Daffy Duck – Dave Chappelle
Granny (head cheerleader for the Tune Squad) – Jackie Hoffman
Porky Pig – George Salazar
Tune Squad – Harlem Globetrotters
Monstars – Washington Generals
Bill Murray – Rotating guest slot filled by the most recent castoff of Dancing With the Stars and/or The Bachelor
Learning to Fly (Tom Petty) – Young Michael
Whoomp! [There It Is] (Tag Team) – Michael, Ensemble
Gangsta's Paradise (Coolio, L.V.) – Swackhammer
It's All About the Benjamins (Diddy)/Eat the Rich (Aerosmith) – Nerdlucks/Looney Tunes
Stop (Spice Girls)/I Don't Want to Wait (Paula Cole) – Bugs Bunny
Just a Friendly Game of Baseball (Main Source) – Michael
I Knew I Loved You (Savage Garden) – Stan
Loser (Beck) – Michael, Nerdlucks
The Transformation: Boom! Shake the Room (DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince) – Monstars
Fly (Sugar Ray) – Bill Murray
Long Way Down (Goo Goo Dolls) – Looney Tunes, Michael
Don't Wanna Lose You Now (Backstreet Boys) – Stan
U Can't Touch This (MC Hammer) – Lola Bunny
Training Montage: Gonna Make You Sweat [Everybody Dance Now] (C C Music Factory)/All Star (Smash Mouth)/Jump (Kris Kross) – Michael, Looney Toons
Hold On (Wilson Phillips) – Michael, Looney Tunes
Macarena – Granny, Ensemble [a pyrotechnic cheerleading production number]
Kiss Me (Sixpence None the Richer) – Bugs and Lola
Tubthumping (Chumbawamba) – Tune Squad, Ensemble
Ice Ice Baby (Vanilla Ice) – Bill Murray
All Star (Smash Mouth) – Michael, Looney Tunes (feat. Porky Pig)
Finale: Believe It or Not (Theme from Greatest American Hero)/Space Jam (Quad City DJ's) – Full Company