Black News and Black Views with a Whole Lotta Attitude
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Black News and Black Views with a Whole Lotta Attitude

What's Black on Broadway? Death of A Salesman, Topdog/Underdog, The Piano Lesson and More

Stars like Samuel L. Jackson, Angelica Ross, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and more will be taking the stage come this fall.

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Photo: Courtesy of Death of A Salesman and Topdog/Underdog

In the same calendar year that brought us the first Black Glinda in Wicked, the first show to be directed and choreographed by a Black woman in 65 years, the first Black “Christine” in Phantom of the Opera, and soon, the first Black openly trans actress to star in the lead role in Chicago, I think it’s pretty safe to say that for Black stars on Broadway, the prospects and projects are continuing to look better and better.

And it’s in that spirit that we thought it best to highlight some phenomenal plays set to premiere this fall, starring some of our fave Blackity-black actors and actresses. Beginning with...

Chicago

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As previously reported by The Root, Pose star Angelica Ross is set to make history this fall once she makes her Broadway debut starring as the famous Roxie Hart in Chicago. Thanks to this iconic production, Ross will cement her place in history as the first “openly trans actress in the role, and among one of the first known trans actresses to star in a leading role in a Broadway musical.”

Chicago will begin on Sep. 12, with an eight-week limited run and is set to take place at the Ambassador Theatre in New York. It is the second, longest-running show in Broadway history (Phantom of the Opera is the first according to Playbill.)

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“Thank you to everyone who has been sharing and celebrating this news with me,” Ross captioned in a post to Instagram sharing the news. “I am currently in rehearsals and coaching, working VERY hard everyday to give you my all and my best! Can’t wait to meet the whole cast and create magic with them! See you all on #Broadway soon!!!”

Tickets are on sale now for Chicago, for more on how to snag yours head to chicagothemusical.com.

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The Piano Lesson

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Samuel L. Jackson, John David Washington, and Danielle Brooks will be bringing their signature acting chops to the Pulitzer Prize-winning play The Piano Lesson by August Wilson, which will be making its grand return to the Broadway stage after over 30 years.

Per a press release provided to The Root, the drama originally premiered back in 1990 and starred a then 39-year-old Jackson in the role of Boy Willie. Set in Pittsburgh’s Hill District in 1936, The Piano Lesson centers around “a brother and sister [who] are locked in a war over the fate of a family heirloom: a piano carved with the faces of their ancestors. Only by revisiting history can the siblings endeavor to move forward.”

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In this new iteration, Jackson will take on the lead role of Doaker Charles, with Tenet and Ballers star John David Washington set to take on the role of Boy Willie. Tony Award-winning actress Danielle Brooks will star as Berniece. Additionally, Jackson’s wife, LaTanya Richardson, will be at the helm of the play, thus making her Broadway directorial debut. She’s also making history as the first woman to ever direct an August Wilson play on Broadway.

Opening night for The Piano Lesson begins Oct. 13 at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre in New York City. To get your tix, visit pianolessonplay.com.

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Death of A Salesman

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In Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, Olivier Award nominee and Tony Award-winning Wendell Pierce will be joined by 2022 Tony-nominee Sharon D Clarke for the reprisal of their respective roles as Willy and Linda Loman, in a revival-told for the first time on Broadway-from the perspective of an African American family. Per Playbill, this powerful interpretation of Arthur Miller’s classic drama will “illuminate the dark underbelly of the American Dream and its elusive promise of equality and opportunity for all.”

“The opportunity to do this play is the Mount Everest for an actor. It’s the American Hamlet,” Pierce said in an interview for the play. “It’s one of those milestone’s for an actor’s career that they look forward to and look forward to the challenge. I hope I’m adding to this long line of tradition of men who have played this role before, I have been passed this baton, and that I’m able to run my leg of the race—illuminate what I can about not only the humanity of Willy Loman but the family itself. And then, the state that we’re in as a community, as a world community, as a human community.”

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Opening night for Death of A Salesman will be Sunday, Oct. 9 at the Hudson Theatre in New York City. For more info on how to secure tickets, head to salesmanonbroadway.com

Topdog/Underdog

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Ambulance and The Matrix Resurrections star Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and The Tragedy of Macbeth and Straight Outta Compton star Corey Hawkins will be bringing their collective talents together in the Kenny Leon-directed play Topdog/Underdog from Suzan-Lori Parks in a strictly limited engagement beginning this September.

As previously reported by The Root and in celebration of the plays 20th anninversary, Topdog/Underdog “tells the story of two brothers, Lincoln (Hawkins) and Booth (Abdul-Mateen II), names given to them as a joke by their father. Haunted by the past and their obsession with the street con game, three-card Monte, the brothers come to learn the true nature of their history.”

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In 2002, Parks made history as the first Black woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for Topdog/Underdog. In 2018, the play was named “The Greatest American Play of the Past 25 Years” by The New York Times. Previews begin Sep. 27 with opening night slated to start on Oct. 20 at the John Golden Theatre in New York. To get your tickets, visit topdogunderdog.com.

Aint No Mo’

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Presented by Lee Daniels, the Jordan E. Cooper-written and led play Ain’t No Mo’ dares to ask the incendiary question: “What if the U.S. government attempted to solve racism … by offering Black Americans one-way plane tickets to Africa?” The answer comes in the form of an outrageous and high-octane comedy about being Black in today’s America. This play also marks the Broadway debut for both Daniels and Cooper.

“Not since the original Dreamgirls, have I been so moved by a piece of theatre,” Daniels said in a statement per Playbill. “I knew it would take something extraordinary to finally lure me to Broadway, and Ain’t No Mo’ is it. Jordan E. Cooper is a revelation, and I can’t wait for a whole new audience to lay witness to what he has created. Broadway ain’t gon’ be the same!”

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Ain’t No Mo’ opens Thursday, Dec. 1 at the Belasco Theatre in New York. To get your tickets, head to aintnomobway.com.


Ohio State Murders

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Six-time Tony Award-winning actress Audra McDonald will be making her return back to Broadway this fall for the Kenny Leon-directed play, Ohio State Murders.

Written by playwright Adrienne Kenny—who will be making her Broadway debut with this production at the young age of 91—the inaugural production of Ohio State Murders will tell the story of writer Suzanne Alexander (McDonald) who returns to her alma mater as a guest speaker, in which she explores the violence in her works as a dark mystery begins to unravel. Per a press release sent to The Root, the play is “an intriguing and unusual suspense play, as well as a social pertinent look at the destructiveness of racism in our society.”

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It’s will also be the first show to play at the newly re-named and renovated James Earl Jones Theatre (formerly the 110-year-old Cort Theatre.)

“I’m honored and humbled to be part of Adrienne Kennedy’s long-overdue Broadway debut in the newly dedicated James Earl Jones Theatre with Kenny Leon,” said McDonald in a statement. “This timeless play has a powerful resonance and relevance today, and we can’t wait to share it with the world.”

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Opening night for Ohio State Murders is set to begin on Thursday, Dec. 8 for a strictly limited engagement. For more info on how to get your tickets, visit ohiostatemurdersbroadway.com.