Lear deBessonet conceived and directed the project that began previews June 14 as part of LCT3, the newly created developmental arm of Lincoln Center Theater. Gardley penned the play that features music and lyrics by Almond.
Leading the cast are Tony Award winner Chuck Cooper (The Life; Caroline, or Change; Finian's Rainbow), Amari Cheatom (The Book of Grace, Zooman and the Sign), Michael Sibbery (When the Rain Stops Falling, Spamalot), Sam Numrich (Iphegenia 2.0) and Dion Graham (Not About Nightingales).
The cast also features Brian D. Coats (Two Gentlemen of Verona), Maria Couch (Phantom, Annie), Harriett D. Foy (The American Plan, Once On This Island), April Matthis (Snake Oil), Jacob Ming-Trent (Shrek), Stephen Plunkett (The Orphans' Home Cycle, Gone Missing) and Shelley Thomas (Brooklyn, Rent).
According to LCT3, "On the Levee tells the story of two fathers and sons — a white cotton farmer (Siberry) and his poet son (Numrich), and an African-American bootblack (Graham) and his offspring (Cheatom) — inspired by the Great Flood of 1927 in Greenville, Mississippi, when 5,000 black laborers were left stranded on a levee."
On the Levee has set design by Peter Ksander, costume design by Emily Rebholz, lighting design by Justin Townsend, sound design by Leon Rothenberg and projection design by Austin Switser. Cut-paper silhouette artist Kara Walker has rendered designs for the production. Almond has penned the musicals People Like Us, Ahraihsak and We Have Always Lived in the Castle, which will play Yale Rep this summer. His musical Girlfriend, which uses the Matthew Sweet album of the same title as its score, is currently playing the Berkeley Repertory Theatre.
Gardley is the author of the plays Love is a Dream House in Lorin, dance of the holy ghost, (L)imitations of Life and like sun fallin' in the mouth.
Performances continue through July 10. All tickets for LCT3 productions are priced $20. For tickets phone (646) 223-3010 or visit Dukeon42.
Citing the need to develop strong relationships with new artists and to develop a new audience, and recognizing the frustrations that playwrights have with the current system of readings and workshops, Lincoln Center Theater (under the direction of artistic director Andre Bishop and executive producer Bernard Gersten) created LCT3 to offer new artists fully staged productions. Lincoln Center Theater's long-term plans for LCT3 call for the creation of a permanent venue to present the work of these artists; to that end a 99-seat theatre will be built in or near Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. Paige Evans is the director of LCT3.