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The Karate Kid Will 'Wax On' to the Stage in New Broadway-Bound Musical

Dave Quinn

Get ready to see The Karate Kid like you never have before.

The beloved 1984 film franchise will join the long list of popular motion pictures to receive stage adaptations, with plans for a new Broadway-bound musical announced on Wednesday by producers Kumiko Yoshii, the Kinoshita Group, and Michael Wolk.

Robert Mark Kamen — who wrote the original film and its many sequels — will pen the musical’s book, with a score by Drew Gasparini (Smash).

The production will be directed by by renowned Japanese director Amon Miyamoto and choreographed by MTV VMA nominees Keone and Mari Madrid. Tony-winning set designer Derek McLane rounds out the creative team.

Additional information, including premiere dates and casting, will be announced at a later date.

The Karate Kid was a smash hit when it premiered in 1984, earning nearly $100 million at the box office and making household names of stars Macchio, Noriyuki “Pat” Morita, William Zabka, and Elisabeth Shue (among others).

It’s widely credited for popularizing karate in the United States.

As viewers remember, the movie followed a teenager named Daniel (Macchio), who learns karate from sensei Mr. Miyagi (Morita) to compete in a tournament against his high school bullies — one of which, Johnny (Zabka), is dating his love interest Ali (Shue).

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Ralph Macchio in The Karate Kid | Columbia/Kobal/Shutterstock

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Since the original, two sequels followed Daniel on his karate career — The Karate Kid Part II (1986) and The Karate Kid Part III (1989)

In 1994, The Next Karate Kid gave Mr. Miyagi a new student, played by Hilary Swank.

Macchio and Zabka both reprised their roles as Daniel and Johnny for the acclaimed YouTube series Cobra Kai, which premiered in 2018. A third season is on the way.

The franchise also a 1989 short-live animated series, called The Karate Kid, that aired on NBC in 1989.

Meanwhile, in 2010, they attempted to reboot the franchise with a new Karate Kid movie starring Jaden Smith, Jackie Chan and Taraji P. Henson.

Kamen had a role in all, in one way or the other.

It’s unclear whether his musical will be a retelling of the original film, or a completely new story within the same framework of the martial arts’ classic (as he did in the 2010 Karate Kid film — and, similarly, how 2011’s Bring It On: The Musical was handled).

William Zabka and Ralph Macchio in The Karate Kid | Mary Evans/Ronald Grant/Everett

In a statement about the musical, Kamen recalled his long past with the property:

“On June 13, 1982, my daughter Alessandra (Ali with an i) was born. Two days later when she arrived home from the hospital, I sat down with her in one of those little rocking cradles at my side, and began to write The Karate Kid,” he recalled. “A year later, in October of 1983, principal photography began. A year after that, in June of 1984, exactly two years after I wrote the script, the film was in theaters. And there it stayed for nearly six months.”

“Five sequels and two television shows later, amazingly the characters and the story still resonates with audiences the way it did when the film first was released,’ he said. “Never in my wildest dreams did I think this little movie would reach across generations the way it has. And beyond my wildest dreams did I think what started out as a love letter to my devotion to Okinawan Karate and the man who taught me would become a full-blown Broadway musical. But here it is. Here I am. And here is hoping that what comes to the stage brings the same joy and relevance The Karate Kid has brought to countless kids and their parents for the past 35 years. Go figure.”