Chorus lines in denim bikinis and a Ramona pole dance soundtracked by an orchestra – the scamming stripper movie is in the works for Broadway
As the iconic Ramona Vega says, “This whole country is a strip club” – naturally, that includes Broadway. In a recent interview with Variety on the red carpet at the Golden Globes, Hustlers director Lorene Scafaria shared that she was working on bringing the stripper crime movie to the stage.
Hustlers traces the lives of Ramona (Jennifer Lopez), Destiny (Constance Wu), and a group of strippers played by Cardi B, Keke Palmer, Lili Reinhart, and Lizzo, as they try to make their way in New York. Set against the 2008 financial crisis, they begin drugging and scamming large amounts of money from bankers and rich strip club punters. The acclaimed movie was adapted from a viral New York Magazine article, “The Hustlers at Scores”, that chronicled the real life story.
Speaking to Variety, Scafaria related that it’s early days: “We’re just starting… I said it to them a few months ago that I thought it would be a good idea, that’s all. Who knows. I’m trying to develop it for the stage!”
Referencing the runaway hit’s wide audience Scafaria said she hoped theatre-goers would enjoy an adaptation. “We had a lot of different kinds of people turning out for Hustlers, it was a wider net than I imagined. I think it’s a safe place…. for people to enjoy something that maybe they wouldn’t enjoy, and maybe they’ll get inspired to go to an actual strip club and support the girls.”
The Broadway show would have some pretty big – and sky-high – stiletto boots to fill, so here, we imagine what bringing da club to the stage would look like.
THE OPENING SCENES
As the Hustlers movie has a non-linear timeline – jumping from Destiny first meeting Ramona and their journey to the ultimate stripper scamming, to an older, buttoned-up Destiny in interviews with a journalist writing about their tricks – the show can get super creative with its storyline and stage blocking. Picture this: a swivelling, moving stage for each tableaux – think the “Omigod You Guys” ensemble opener in the Legally Blonde musical with its multiple scene changes. The show can jump from the sparkling, multi-floor strip club and VIP rooms to Destiny’s suburban living room, and Ramona’s lush apartment. Slick.
AN ORCHESTRAL VERSION OF FIONA APPLE’S ‘CRIMINAL’ FOR RAMONA’S POLE DANCE
Scafaria told Variety that the Broadway show would probably incorporate a mix of music from the original movie soundtrack and original tunes. That means we could have a campy, full orchestra version of Fiona Apple’s “Criminal”, which soundtracks the iconic first pole dance we see Ramona do. A funky monkey to a gemini handstand with a sultry violin quartet? Stunning. Scafaria also said that some of what they would want to do relies on Usher – who could forget the film scene where Usher enters the club to his own tune, for Ramona to playfully ask him, “what’s your name?”, “Usher baby!”. “Love in this Club” is begging for these theatrics.
‘CLIMB IN MY FUR’, A SOULFUL, SENSUOUS DUET
How best to spark the beginnings of a beautiful and fruitful friendship than with a soulful duet? The scene where veteran dancer Ramona offers an olive branch to the young and struggling Destiny on the strip club roof is a special moment – ”climb in my fur,” Ramona says, opening up her huge chinchilla (it’s the early 00s New York, ofc) coat. Here so begins the rising action of a play’s narrative structure, just with more glam, crime, and erotics.
A Y2K REMIX OF CHICAGO’S ‘CELL BLOCK TANGO’
The impact of the 2008 financial crash plays out in Hustlers, and everyone wanted to smack down a banker. What better way to see the film’s scam transplanted to the Broadway stage than with a reimagining of Chicago’s iconic “Cell Block Tango”? In Chicago, incarcerated women charged with murder at the Cook County Jail explain their circumstances – ”they had it coming!” is the song’s main refrain. A y2k remix with all of the strippers involved in the scam would see each girl act out their scam, like sprinkling GHB in some Veuve before swiping a stock broker’s Amex. Pop!
A BALLET ENSEMBLE WHERE THE GIRLS SPEND THEIR SCAM MONEY
It’s the 00s, baby – the costume department could go crazy here. Juicy sweats and seven-inch metallic platforms, mink-imitation coats, snakeprint cut-out bikinis, and the lowest slung denim jeans imaginable. Imagine those lewks on a captivating ballet ensemble – set to some Usher or Janet Jackson, ofc – stunning.
A CHORUS LINE OF IRL STRIPPERS IN DENIM BIKINIS
The OG film had former stripper Cardi B in a starring role, but it would be even better to see the chorus line made up of IRL strippers and dancers, doing the acrobatics and sensuous movies your usual theatre ensemble could only dream of. And dressed in Ramona’s line of denim bikinis? Dionysian perfection.
TOTALLY INSPIRED MERCH ON SALE
When you get to the interval, you’ll wanna be hitting the merch desk. Think ‘SEXY’ stamped choker chains like Destiny’s, Juicy Couture-style sweatpants with the crown on the butt, Ramona’s wide-brimmed hat from when she first takes to the pole, and of course, the tote bag everyone will be after, emblazoned with slogans ‘The whole country is a strip club’, and ‘I spent $5000 at a strip club, send help’.
PATTI LUPONE AS MAMA, J. LO AS RAMONA?
Jennifer Lopez was asked about a Broadway reboot at the Gotham Awards, where she told press: “It really lends itself to a Broadway show, and to a live-performance show. I don’t know that I would do it. I would produce it, for sure. I don’t know. Maybe. You never know with me.” Though there’s hope to see J. Lo reprise her role and killer moves on stage, gleaning from some Broadway talent could give the show an interesting perspective. Mama – the strip club’s ‘mother of the house’ – could be a theatre legend like Patti Lupone or Chita Rivera, of course, and we could see young blood like Saycon Sengbloh and Hamilton’s Phillipa Soo or even celebs like Sarah Hyland and Anna Kendrick in the leading cast. Wicked and Hamilton star Mandy Gonzalez could absolutely take on Ramona, should J. Lo sit firmly in the producing chair.
Personally, we think Scafaria needs to get us in for the script. Keep an eye on the Broadway box office!