the karate kid musical

Broadway may become the next battleground between underdog Daniel LaRusso and local bully Johnny Lawrence. The beloved ’80s classic The Karate Kid is being developed into a stage musical, with original screenwriter Robert Mark Kamen set to pen the musical’s book. The stage musical is currently in early development, but will stick to the story of the original movie.

The LA Times broke the news that The Karate Kid is being developed into a stage musical, with a book by Robert Mark Kamen, who wrote the semi-autobiographical screenplay of the 1984 movie as well as its two sequels. The Tony-nominated Amon Miyamoto, who made history in 2004 as the first Japanese director on Broadway with the Tony-nominated staging of Pacific Overtures, is set to direct, with Drew Gasparini on lyrics, and Keone and Mari Madrid on choreography. It will also feature set design by Derek McLane.

“I never dreamed that this movie would have the life it’s had,” Kamen told The Times. “When I first wrote this, I thought it was just gonna be a nice little movie that might do $30 million at the box office and then leave. Then the first film came out and it became a phenomenon, and then the sequel came out and did more than the first movie did, I couldn’t believe it. Even now, whenever I hear parents or grandparents are watching it with their young kids, it’s very heartwarming.”

Kamen has been working on the musical’s book for a year and a half, but the musical is now coming into existence — perhaps due to the success of Cobra KaiThe Karate Kid has long been a cable-run classic, but the beloved franchise was injected with new life with the YouTube Premium series, which follows up with Daniel and Johnny 30 years later, inverting the dynamic of the two former rivals. The timing of the musical seems like it could be capitalizing on the success of Cobra Kai, as well as the ongoing power of ’80s nostalgia on the big and small screen.

Casting has not yet been finalized, Kamen told the LA Times, but assures that “culturally authentic casting is a top priority for the musical,” which is produced by Japanese conglomerate Kinoshita Group and Gorgeous Entertainment’s Kumiko Yoshii and Michael Wolk (Pacific Overtures).

“Everybody thinks it’s Daniel’s story, but it’s really Daniel’s story as told through Mr. Miyagi, as he watches that boy grow up,” said Kamen. “He was always the most important character to me. He represents who we all want in our lives — a kind and gentle father figure who has the answer to everything. You can’t have Mr. Miyagi being played by a white guy. He has to be an Asian actor.”

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