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Hear & Now

This week on the music beat

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PLAY BOYZ No more drama? Sorry, Mary J. The Hip-Hop Theater Festival, which wrapped on June 29 in Manhattan, marks the rap generation’s growing presence in mainstream theater (Mos Def is also treading the boards, in Broadway’s Topdog/Underdog) and has introduced a slew of new playwrights and performers. Organizer Danny Hoch — who starred in the 1999 movie Whiteboys, had his own HBO special, and helped invent hip-hop theater with his 1998 one-man show, Jails, Hospitals & Hip-Hop — defines the genre as ”theater or performance that is about, by, and for this generation.” He arranged the first fest three years ago. ”I had become this token hip-hopper on stage,” he says. ”And I knew I wasn’t the only one creating this work.” This year, the 11-day event included solo performances by Hoch, Sarah Jones, and Will Power, plus several original plays, operas, and dance pieces. ”Usually, the struggle is to try and get young people into the theater. We’re having the opposite problem,” says Hoch, noting that every performance was sold out. ”For the first time in the history of real Off Broadway theater — not children’s theater — young people dominated the audience.” Next up on the Great White Way: ODB, the Musical. Hey, we can dream…

ROCK & RAWLF No, MTV hasn’t started airing reruns of The Muppet Show (but that would be cool…). If you see Kermit, Miss Piggy, and the Swedish Chef sandwiched between Korn and Nelly in the coming weeks, it’s probably just the new video for Weezer’s ”Keep Fishin’,” which features Jim Henson’s whole gang in a madcap musical adventure. Director Marcos Siega came up with the idea while watching an old Muppets episode guest-starring John Cleese. In the video, Weezer are about to perform on The Muppet Show, but the always-amorous Miss Piggy has kidnapped drummer Pat Wilson, and Animal must fill in. ”It was the most fun shoot I’ve ever done,” says Siega, who first pitched the concept to blink-182 and — get this — Ozzy Osbourne. Even notoriously dour frontman Rivers Cuomo allows himself a grin in the video. But the cantankerous old balcony dudes are, as usual, unimpressed. ”Go back to sleep, you old fool,” Statler tells Waldorf. ”They said ‘Weezer,’ not ‘Geezer.”’