Guess some can say you really made it in the annals of pop culture history when your story becomes adapted into a musical. As if the television sequel Cobra Kai wasn't already enough, The Karate Kid will be adapted for the stage courtesy of original screenwriter Robert Mark Kamen and Smash's Drew Gasparini providing music and lyrics. Plans are for a limited engagement from May 25, 2022-June 26 in a Stages St. Louis production at The Kirkwood Performing Arts Center just outside of St. Louis, MO (via Deadline Hollywood).
The Karate Kid musical will be fronted by Japanese director Amon Miyamoto (Pacific Overtures). Casting has not been announced. "When I was a young man, my life was forever changed by traditional Okinawan Karate and the instructors who taught it to me," Kamen said in a statement. "The Karate Kid is my love letter to both those masters and their practice. Karate teaches, above all, to follow your dreams no matter what obstacles are put in front of you, and that is the spirit with which all of us are approaching this show."
The 1984 original film was directed by John G. Avildsen and starred Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita. The success of the film spawned three sequels with Morita and two also featured Macchio. Renewed interest in the franchise returned with Cobra Kai that saw the return of Macchio and equally featured his character Daniel LaRusso's 1984 rival in Johnny Lawrence, played by William Zabka, who reprises his role first for YouTube Red and now for Netflix. "As I am sure anyone my age can relate to, The Karate Kid has been a major touchstone in my life," Gasparini said. "It is such an incredible honor to be able to give a musical voice to such an iconic story that means so much to so many people across the globe. It's a responsibility I don't take lightly, and one I am relishing every second of." Also joining production are Broadway stalwarts in set designer Derek McLane, costume designer Ayako Maeda, lighting designer Bradley King, and sound designer Kai Harada with orchestrations by John Clancy and music direction and arrangements by Andrew Resnick.
"Karate teaches that if you treat people with inner strength, humility, and the spirit of harmony, there will be no conflict," Miyamoto said. "It's a message that I think we need to hear even more now than we did in 1984, and I am so excited to have the chance to modernize and musicalize this beloved story for what will be the world's first karate action musical. My deepest hope is that our work resonates with audiences all over the world, spreading the ideas of acceptance and inclusion — which are the opposite of division." Fingers crossed they use Joe Esposito's "You're The Best" for the musical.
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