MTV News recently ran a piece that explores how the rock musical is attracting a new, younger generation to the Great White Way, and uses newcomers (and award winners) "Passing Strange", "In The Heights" and longer running shows such as "Rent" and "Spring Awakening" as examples. "In the Heights" is one of the first to use hip hop effectively in a theatrical setting.
Rock seems to have had an easier transition to the Broadway stage than hip-hop, but that's changing with "In the Heights," which led the 2008 Tony Award nominations with 13 nods. "It surprises me that no one has put hip-hop and Latin music into a Broadway musical before me," "Heights" composer/narrator Lin-Manuel Miranda said. "We really tried to use the music of Washington Heights — salsa, reggaeton, hip-hop — and we use it to tell a story."
And Stew of "Passing Strange" makes this cogent observation:
"I think the theater needs rappers and rock bands and techno and everything," Stew said. "The theater needs every actual music that's actually happening in the world, you know? Because the audience for the new musical, they're out there. They listen to music all the time. We live in a music-obsessed society, you know? Stuff like us or 'Spring Awakening,' it shouldn't be an aberration. It shouldn't be strange. It should be normal."
The MTV News article is here.