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London theater group tells Beastie Boys’ story in Licensed to Ill musical

"This loud, crazy show does to music theatre what hip-hop did to tracksuits: make them cool."

Beastie Boys
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The Beastie Boys’ story is one for the hip-hop ages. From their beginnings in a punk rock band to their assent to hip-hop stardom and eventual induction into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, the trio’s career is legend. Though that tale began in New York City, it’s now being told way across the pond in London.

The Camden People’s Theatre is about to lift the curtain on Licensed to Ill, an ironically unlicensed musical production recounting the history of one of rap’s greatest groups. A collaborative effort between Simon Maeder and Adam El Hagar, the show follows Mike D, MCA, and AdRock “as they go from teenage punk rockers to international rapping legends.” The show originally ran late last year for a few dates, but has been reworked and will have a full run from November 23rd to December 12th.

The performers told Pitchfork that, “Whilst we have ensured the Beastie Boys are fully appraised of our plans for the show, this is an unauthorized production based on the Beastie Boys story.” Though it doesn’t have the band’s stamp of approval, the show will utilize their live music and DJs as part of its storytelling. The official description of the show reads,

“Created with creative support from comedy hip-hop legends Abandonman and the Rubberbandits, and using a mix of live music and DJ-ing, Licensed to Ill travels through time from the hip-hoppers of ’80s New York to the ’90s gangsters of LA – all the way to the total globalization of hip-hop. This loud, crazy show does to music theatre what hip-hop did to tracksuits: make them cool.

The Beastie Boys’ story sheds light on many issues still raising hackles: racism towards and within rap; misogyny; the battle for hip-hop’s soul, between those using it for protest, and for profit. We follow the gang from teenage punks, via their discovery by legendary producer Rick Rubin, to their induction into the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame.”

Tickets for Licensed to Ill are on sale now via the Camden People’s Theatre website. Below, watch rehearsal footage of “Shake Your Rump” that the production posted late last year prior to their original engagement.

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