Watch out, “Hamilton.” A new musical about Martin Shkreli will debut in New York City this summer.
The show will center on the infamous pharma CEO’s purchase of an exclusive album from the hip-hop group Wu-Tang Clan — and the almost certainly untrue rumor that the contract stipulates that the rappers “and/or” actor Bill Murray are legally entitled to steal it back in a heist anytime in the next 88 years. The rumor spread like wildfire online, even after being debunked by RZA, the Wu-Tang Clan rapper.
The new musical, titled “Martin Shkreli’s Game,” will tell a fictional story imagining that heist. The musical’s website features sneak peeks at seven songs, including one that we’ll render here as “I’m Martin Shkreli (And You Can All Go Screw Yourselves),” only with a profanity we can’t publish sandwiched between his first and last names (and another unprintable expletive in place of “screw”).
Don’t expect the show to delve too much into Shkreli’s antics in the pharmaceutical world: It’s more of an exploration of his psyche, producers Lauren Gundrum and Joel Esher said in an interview with STAT.
“As Martin Shkreli became more and more ubiquitous in the news, we just became more interested in exploring him as a character and felt that it was a story that needed to sing,” said Gundrum, who wrote the musical’s lyrics and script.
The producers are holding auditions in New York City on Saturday. Esher, also the musical’s composer, said he didn’t have a final tally of actors interested in coming aboard — but he said the most interest “by far” has been among people wanting to play Shkreli.
(Pro tip for all those hopefuls who may be spending tonight practicing their smirks: Esher’s not looking for a one-dimensional portrait; he wants “an actor who’s capable of showing different sides” of Shkreli.)
Shkreli, 33, rocketed to global notoriety last year when his company, Turing Pharmaceuticals, hiked the price of a decades-old drug by more than 5,000 percent, enraging a sizable fraction of the Internet and giving Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump something to agree upon.
Months later, Shkreli found himself under arrest and facing charges that he used shares of a different former company, Retrophin, to pay off jilted investors in a failed hedge fund. Last week, federal prosecutors added a charge of criminal conspiracy to the already pending counts of securities fraud. Shkreli has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting a trial date.
Since posting bail, the former CEO has vowed not to speak to reporters — he didn’t return a call from STAT on Wednesday — but he has barely let a day go by without tweeting or livestreaming slices of his life, taking to Periscope for long sessions of video games, stock trading seminars, and guitar noodling.
The producers said they called Shkreli a little over a week ago, after he posted his cell phone number on Twitter. When they asked him how he would feel about people writing a musical about his life, Shkreli said he wouldn’t care, Gundrum said.
The producers set up a page on the crowdfunding site Indiegogo to raise funds for cast members’ salaries and other production costs; as of Wednesday afternoon they had raised just $720 of their $6,500 goal. There are six performances of the musical planned at the Midtown International Theatre Festival in New York City beginning in mid-July.
The timing of all this isn’t great for the broader biopharma community; drug companies have been trying like heck to distance themselves from Shkreli, only to see him pop up in the headlines again just as the industry is gathering in San Francisco for the BIO International Convention.
As for Shkreli, whether he’ll turn up to see the musical is anyone’s guess. Doing so would apparently mark a first for the lifelong New Yorker:
Fact: I've never seen a Broadway play or musical. #frombrooklyn #streetlife
— Martin Shkreli (@MartinShkreli) June 8, 2016
But demand from other theatergoers might be stronger. After all, “American Psycho” just closed on Broadway.