How P. Diddy Packs This House

As hip-hop impresario P. Diddy, he can fill stadiums with urban teens. As actor Sean Combs making his Broadway debut in Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun at the Royale Theater, he thought he might need a little help.

No stranger to self-promotion—this is a guy who marketed his run in the New York City Marathon—Combs enlisted former Bad Boy Entertainment executive Shawn Prez to introduce young, urban audiences to a district better known for show tunes than hip-hop. “The makeup of people who frequent Broadway plays is 50-and-older white women,” says Prez. “That is definitely not my demographic. And that is definitely not Puff’s demographic.”

Prez and his company, Power Moves Inc., last week launched a grassroots campaign for the show. Street teams are frequenting hangouts like barber shops and video stores to chat up folks in areas including Harlem, the South Bronx and Farmer’s Boulevard in Queens. “We’re really going to the grittiest parts of the neighborhood,” says Prez. The show is also getting on-air shout-outs from celeb DJ Funkmaster Flex and others.

Prez says it’s working—and don’t even say that’s because of the play’s massive media hype. “The Producers gets a lot of press, and I’ve never once wanted to go see that play,” he says. “Toni Braxton was in Beauty and the Beast. Michelle Williams was in Aida. I don’t see too many people going to see those shows.”