Rapper and producer Q-Tip is joining the Broadway-bound musical “Ali,” which delves into the life of boxing legend Muhammad Ali both inside and outside the boxing ring. Q-Tip, whose real name is Kamaal Ibn John Fareed, joins as the , and cast album producer for the show. The production is being helmed by director and book writer Clint Dyer, along with composer Teddy Abrams. Saxophonist Casey Benjamin and music supervisor Sean Hayes are also on board.
“Ali” is not your traditional Broadway show, as it will combine various musical elements, including spoken word, verse, classical music, poetry, rap, and hip-hop. Richard Willis, the lead producer, explained that they aim to challenge the conventional musical theater structure and create something fresh and new.
Abrams, who serves as the music director of the Louisville Orchestra (a fitting connection to Ali’s hometown), previously composed a multimedia opera-rap-oratorio titled “The Greatest: Muhammad Ali” in 2017. This production laid the groundwork for the idea of a full-scale Broadway musical centered around the late boxer.
The musical is rapidly progressing, with private workshops already held in Louisville, and more planned for the future. The musical is set to premiere in Louisville, Kentucky, in the fall of 2024 before moving to Broadway, likely in 2025.
Q-Tip expressed his enthusiasm for the project, stating, “I am very excited to be collaborating with Teddy, Clint, Casey, and Sean in telling The Greatest’s story on stage. Muhammad Ali has always been a hero to me!”
The creative team behind “Ali” includes choreography by Rich + Tone Talauega, set design by Anna Fleischle, costume design by Emilio Sosa, lighting design by Jen Schriever, video/projections/media design by Tal Yarden and Gino Ricardo Green, and sound effects design by Ben Grant. Additionally, special contributions come from Asmeret Ghebremichael, Fred Carl, Michael “Silk” Olajide Jr., and casting director Jim Carnahan.
“Ali” is produced by a collaborative effort involving Willis, Brook T. Smith, David & Michelle Campbell, and The Tribeca Workshop in partnership with ABG Entertainment in association with Lonnie Ali.