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Black Women Writers Ruling Broadway This Season

by Tambay A. Obenson
September 22, 2011 8:52 AM
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Just thought I'd toast to what just may be a historical moment (theater geeks can correct me if I'm wrong on this); This season will see 3 Broadway shows (the highest level of commercial theatre/stage achievement in this country) penned/adapted by black women.

And we've of course been covering all 3: Katori Hall's The Mountaintop, which begins previews today, starring Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett; Stick Fly, written by Lydia R. Diamond, which Alicia Keys is producing, and stars Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Emmy nominee Dulé Hill, Mekhi Phifer, Tracie Thoms, and Condola Rashad; and last, but not least, of course, the revival of the Gerswhins' Porgy & Bess, adapted by Suzan-Lori Parks and Diedre L. Murray, starring Audra McDonald, David Alan Grier, Norm Lewis, Joshua Henry, Philip Boykin, and Nikki Renee Daniels.

As already noted, The Mountaintop begins previews today, with an official opening set for October 13; Stick Fly begins previews on November 18, and opens December 8; and Porgy & Bess begins previews on December 17, with an official opening set for January12, 2012.

I obviously plan to see all three - two which are original works, and the third, a revival/adaptation - so Parks and Murray certainly didn't pen the original Porgy & Bess work; but my understanding is that they essentially "updated" the language to reflect the times, making the material more palatable (and maybe less offensive) to contemporary audiences - changes that musical theater god Stephen Sondheim criticized.

Anyway, a toast to these 4 black women who I believe are making history here folks; when was the last time (if ever) this happened? 3 Broadway shows prominently centered on the lives of black people, written/adapted by black women, all debuting during the same Broadway season.

Theater geeks, you're up! :)

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  • Stanley Bennett Clay | September 23, 2011 12:52 PMReply

    This is such great and empowering news. The Great Black Way is back! I feel so honored to be debuting my play "Armstrong's Kid" Off-Broadway at the same time my brilliant sisters are doing their thing ON Broadway.

    I will be there, and hope that all can come see my show as well. My play is the story of a gay schoolteacher falsely accused of child molestation by his best friend's 14-year-old son and spends a year in prison before the truth is revealed. Eleven years later the now-grown accuser seeks forgiveness. We open Oct 7. Check out the link.


  • Melissa | September 23, 2011 8:32 AMReply

    Recent theater geek here! lol Yay!!

    I think struggling black actors should give Broadway a shot.

  • Courtney | September 23, 2011 4:44 AMReply

    Yes Miss Katori IS a rock star!!! I met her last year at Arena Stage and she is a ball of wonderfulness!!! I love theatre more than anything, so I am VERY excited!!!

  • Kia | September 23, 2011 1:31 AMReply

    Great news to end the night on.

  • Jay | September 22, 2011 9:39 AMReply

    Katori Hall is a rockstar.

  • ttenth | September 22, 2011 9:28 AMReply

    This Shakespeare revival should also be on your radar

  • Jug | September 22, 2011 8:56 AMReply

    That is awesome! Congratz to all of them!

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