Singers vie to play Shkreli, America's 'most-hated man', in musical

Sat Jun 11, 2016 9:54pm EDT
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By Melissa Fares

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Fourteen fame-hungry young men tried to out-smug each other at a small studio in Manhattan's Theater District on Saturday to prove they could play 'America's most hated man' in a new musical comedy about pilloried former drug executive Martin Shkreli.

The hour-long production, titled "Martin Shkreli's Game: How Bill Murray Joined the Wu-Tang Clan," is based on Shkreli's controversial $2 million purchase last year of the sole copy of the hip-hop group's latest album.

Set to open in July, it is a fictionalized account of comedian Bill Murray joining forces with the rappers to steal the album back.

Shkreli, the 33-year-old former chief of Turing Pharmaceuticals, sparked outrage last year and earned the title of the country's most-hated man on the internet when he raised the price of the life-saving anti-parasitic infection drug Daraprim by more than 5,000 percent.

In December, U.S. authorities arrested him on fraud charges unrelated to Daraprim, saying he ran his investment funds and companies almost like a Ponzi scheme.

"We thought, 'What kind of world is this where Martin Shkreli and Wu-Tang are thrown together?'" said the show's co-producer and lyricist Lauren Gundrum.

"It seemed like such a ridiculous thing," added Joel Esher, fellow producer and composer of the play. "Truth is crazier than fiction sometimes and we said, 'That might be a great thing to turn into a musical.'"

So did the 14 hopefuls who came to Ripley-Grier Studios on Saturday afternoon prepared to audition for the lead roles of Shkreli and Murray.   Continued...

Actor Conor Hall is reflected in a mirror as he auditions for new musical "Martin Shkreli's Game" based on the former chief executive officer of Turing Pharmaceuticals, at a rehearsal space in the Manhattan borough of New York, U.S., June 11, 2016.  REUTERS/Carlo Allegri