Former Ragtime star, Alton Fitzgerald, goes from Coalhouse to Whiteside in his current role at Chapel Hill, North Carolina's PlayMakers Repertory Company production of Kaufman and Hart's The Man Who Came to Dinner. The staging will run Nov. 21 to Dec. 16.
Fitzgerald garnered attention as the most visible actor to follow Brian Stokes Mitchell into the role of jazz pianist-turned-revolutionary Coalhouse Walker, Jr., in the Broadway musical Ragtime. At PlayMakers, he will the equally irascible, but otherwise quite different character of Sheridan Whiteside, the world-famous columnist and radio personality who is stranded in a Midwestern family's home after slipping and breaking his leg on their doorstep. In doing so, Fitzgerald will be that rare African-American to play Whiteside, a classic comedic role traditionally played by a white actor.
Fitzgerald made different sort of headlines during his run in Ragtime when, in 1998, he was wrongly arrested by the New York City police arrested a group of men near White's home in Harlem. The Broadway star was mistakenly taken into custody by officers who were looking for "four Hispanic men with guns." The NYPD was allegedly told by White's building super that he was a Broadway star but went ahead and arrested him, apologizing later for the error. White, who missed shows and was humiliated by the incident, then demanded as much as $750,000 in damages. For more information, call (919) 962-7529.