Charles Weldon Replaces Ernie Hudson in Off-Broadway's Birdie Blue; First Preview Changed

News   Charles Weldon Replaces Ernie Hudson in Off-Broadway's Birdie Blue; First Preview Changed Charles Weldon will take over for the previously announced Ernie Hudson in Second Stage Theatre's presentation of Cheryl L. West's Birdie Blue, which now plays its first performance June 2.

The actor joins S. Epatha Merkerson and Billy Porter in the cast of the New York premiere to close the Off-Broadway troupe's season at its midtown Manhattan home. Seret Scott stages the drama still slated to open June 23 for a run through July 17.

Veteran actor Weldon has appeared with the Negro Ensemble Company in productions of The Great MacDaddy, The Offering, The Brownsville Raid, A Soldier's Play and the company's The River Niger on Broadway. The one time Paradons lead singer (heard on his "Diamonds and Pearls") has also been seen in the films "Serpico," "Malcolm X," and on television in "Roots: The Next Generations," "Dynasty" and "A Woman Called Moses."

In Birdie Blue, the playwright behind Jar the Floor takes a look at the world through the eyes of her sassy title character (played by Merkerson) who speaks of love, marriage and the passage of time and "tells it — and we mean all of it — like it is," according to show materials.

Merkerson is known to television audiences for her role on "Law & Order" and recent turn in the HBO Films adaptation of Lackawanna Blues. She has been seen on stage in I’m Not Stupid, The Old Settler, Fucking A and her Tony Award nominated turn in The Piano Lesson.

Porter — who just performed Off-Broadway in his Ghetto Superstar — has been seen on Broadway in Grease, Miss Saigon, Five Guys Named Moe and Smokey Joe’s Café. Director Scott previously staged Charles Fuller's Zooman and the Sign for Second Stage Theatre. As an actress, she has performed on Broadway in My Sister, My Sister and For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When the Rainbow Is Enuf.

The Birdie Blue design team includes Anna Louizos (set), Emilio Sosa (costumes), Donald Holder (lighting) and Obadiah Eaves (sound).

Birdie Blue received a premiere workshop production at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in July 2002. Marion McClinton directed the run starring Cicely Tyson and Charles Brown.

Tickets to Birdie Blue at Second Stage, 307 West 43rd Street (just off 8th Ave.) are on sale at the box office and by phone at (212) 246-4422 or (800) 766-6048. For more information, visit www.SecondStageTheatre.com.