‘Ain’t Supposed to Die a Natural Death’ to return to Broadway in 2022

The acclaimed musical made its Broadway premiere 50 years ago.

Photo credit: Mario Van Peebles, Melvin Van Peebles and Kenny Leon (Photos courtesy of DKC/O&M and GVN Releasing)

Melvin Van Peebles’ Ain’t Supposed to Die a Natural Death will return to Broadway next year. 50 years since its Broadway debut, Van Peebles’ eldest son Mario will bring his father’s musical to life once more.

Ain’t Supposed to Die a Natural Death is a compilation of musical monologues exploring aspects of living as an African American in the United States. Speaking out against ‘The Man’, Van Peebles’ musical combines spoken word, rap music and hip hop styles.

First performed in Sacramento and a subsequent off-Broadway transfer, Ain’t Supposed to Die a Natural Death made its Broadway premiere at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre on Oct. 20, 1971. The seven-time Tony Award-nominated musical was hailed “the most shocking performance in the history of the Tonys” by Time Out New York.

Melvin Van Peebles’ son, Mario Van Peebles will serve as creative producer for the upcoming revival. Speaking about his father’s legacy and the project, he said: “Love what you do for a living, love and enjoy the people you do it with, and love what the work says. If you get these three career chakras to line up, you’re rich beyond the economics. Ain’t Supposed to Die a Natural Death is a perfect example of that artistic alignment.

For years, people have said Ain’t Supposed to Die a Natural Death was my father’s crowning achievement and ahead of its time and would ask when it would come back to Broadway. I believe Ain’t Supposed to Die a Natural Death is more relevant than ever, and America is finally ready for it.”

Ain’t Supposed to Die a Natural Death will be directed by Kenny Leon, whose previous directorial credits include the Tony Award-winning revival of A Raisin in the Sun and The Mountaintop. Speaking about the show, Leon said: “Ever since I heard the name Melvin Van Peebles, I have equated it with excellence, beauty and courage. I am grateful to have this opportunity along with my creative team to introduce to some, and re-introduce to others, the richness of this unique musical experience.”

Casting for Ain’t Supposed to Die a Natural Death, as well as a venue, further creative team and performance dates are to be announced.

Ain’t Supposed to Die a Natural Death marks the second production which has confirmed a new Broadway opening after the pandemic. It joins Thoughts of a Colored Man at the Golden Theatre.

Photo credit: Mario Van Peebles, Melvin Van Peebles and Kenny Leon (Photos courtesy of DKC/O&M and GVN Releasing)