The Huntington Theatre Company production and East Coast premiere of August Wilson's new drama, King Hedley II begins previews here May 19. King Hedley II opens May 24 and will run through June 18. [The Huntington has produced the local premieres of Wilson's Jitney, Joe Turner's Come and Gone, The Piano Lesson, Seven Guitars and Two Trains Running.]
As reported earlier, director Marion Isaac McClinton, who helmed Huntington's production of Wilson's Jitney last season and later staged King Hedley II at the Pittsburgh Public Theater and Seattle Repertory Theatre, returned to direct this production.
The final production of Huntington's 1999-2000 season, King Hedley II is set in 1985, and extends Wilson's cycle of plays chronicling the African-American experience through each decade of the 20th century. King Hedley II tells the story of King's attempts to "carve a life for himself, his pregnant wife Tonya, and his vivacious mother Ruby, by means of peddling refrigerators."
The cast for King Hedley II features Tony Todd in the title role. Todd appeared at the Huntington in Les Blancs, and performed in Athol Fugard's The Captain's Tiger at La Jolla Playhouse, Kennedy Center and Manhattan Theatre Club, and as a guest star on such television shows as "NYPD Blue," "Law & Order," "Homicide" and "The X Files." Russell Andrews (Mister) appeared in August Wilson's Jitney, Joe Turner's Come and Gone and Ma Rainey's Black Bottom and has worked on such television programs as "The Cosby Show," "Homicide" and "Sports Night." Charles Brown (Elmore) was a member of the original Broadway cast of August Wilson's Fences, and earned a Tony nomination for his role in Home.. Ella Joyce (Tonya) returns to the Huntington, where she appeared in Wilson's Two Trains Running. A popular film and television actress, Joyce was a member of the cast of FOX-TV's "Roc" and been seen in such films as "Reality Bites" and Disney's "Selma, Lord Selma." Marlene Warfield (Ruby) returns to live theatre after 30 years of roles in film and television; her last stage role was on Broadway in The Great White Hope. Warfield is best known for such television programs as "Maude," "The Jeffersons" and "Lou Grant." Mel Winkler (Stool Pigeon) created the role of Seth Holly in Wilson's Joe Turner's Come and Gone at the Huntington Theatre Company and most recently appeared in New York in Neil Simon's Proposals.
Production notes indicate that principals in the cast are continuing the roles they originated in the play's developmental productions earlier this year in Pittsburgh and Seattle. The design team comprises set designer David Gallo, costume designer Toni-Leslie James and lighting designer Donald Holder.
August Wilson was in residence at the Huntington throughout the rehearsal period, where he worked on "revising and refining King Hedley II." Tickets are $10-$52. For tickets and information call the Huntington Box Office at (617) 266-0800 or visit www.bu.edu/huntington.