The Karate Kid headed to stage as 'world's first karate action musical'

Wax on, wax off, with jazz hands.

Leslie Katz Former Culture Editor
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Leslie Katz
2 min read

Mr. Miyagi's up for a musical. 

A musical version of classic '80s film The Karate Kid is set to hit the stage next year. Think wax on, wax off, with jazz hands. 

The Karate Kid -- The Musical will have its world premiere at Stages St. Louis in what creators are calling a pre-Broadway engagement. Presumably, if audiences respond to a Mr. Miyagi who sings and dances, the show could move on from Missouri to the Great White Way. 

Robert Mark Kamen, who wrote the movie's screenplay based on his semi-autobiographical story, is penning the dialogue for the upcoming show, with Drew Gasparini (Smash) on music and lyrics. 

The 1984 martial arts drama follows the adventures of Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio), an awkward teenager who gets bullied upon moving to a new town. Mr. Miyagi, the kind handyman at his apartment complex, who also happens to be a martial arts master, teaches LaRusso karate to help him defend himself and succeed in life. 

"When I was a young man, my life was forever changed by traditional Okinawan Karate and the instructors who taught it to me," Kamen said in a statement on Wednesday. "The Karate Kid is my love letter to both those masters and their practice. Karate teaches, above all, to follow your dreams no matter what obstacles are put in front of you, and that is the spirit with which all of us are approaching this show."

The show is set to open for a limited run from May 25 through June 26, 2022, at Stages St. Louis, which focuses on musical theater. Amon Miyamoto (Pacific Overtures) will direct. 

"Karate teaches that if you treat people with inner strength, humility, and the spirit of harmony, there will be no conflict," Miyamoto said in a statement. "It's a message that I think we need to hear even more now than we did in 1984, and I am so excited to have the chance to modernize and musicalize this beloved story for what will be the world's first karate action musical."

The original Karate Kid film spawned a media franchise that includes five films, an animated TV series and Cobra Kai, the sequel series that picks up the story 34 years after the original. Cobrai Kai started on YouTube and later kicked over to Netflix. 

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