Cheryl L. West's Birdie Blue With "Law & Order" Star Opens Off-Broadway, June 23

News   Cheryl L. West's Birdie Blue With "Law & Order" Star Opens Off-Broadway, June 23 Cheryl L. West's Birdie Blue, starring S. Epatha Merkerson, Charles Weldon and Billy Porter, opens June 23 at Second Stage Theatre.
S. Epatha Merkerson in Birdie Blue
S. Epatha Merkerson in Birdie Blue Photo by Joan Marcus

Seret Scott stages the New York premiere of the drama which began June 2 for a run through July 17 to close out the Off-Broadway troupe's season at its midtown Manhattan home.

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.

The work appeared in a premiere workshop production at Williamstown Theatre Festival in July 2002 and subsequently played at Pittsburgh’s City Theater. West's other works include Before It Hits Home, Play On! and Holiday Heart. The scribe is currently adapting her play Jar The Floor for Paramount Studios and at work on the musical Rejoice!, to be directed by Kenny Leon.

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.

Veteran actor Weldon has appeared in the Negro Ensemble Company's The Great MacDaddy, The Offering, The Brownsville Raid, A Soldier's Play and the troupe's Broadway run of The River Niger. 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." Weldon replaced the previously announced Ernie Hudson in the role. Porter — who just performed Off-Broadway in his solo show Ghetto Superstar — has been seen on Broadway in Grease, Miss Saigon, Five Guys Named Moe and Smokey Joe’s Café. Film roles include "The Broken Hearts Club," "The Intern," "Twisted" and "Noel."

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).

Second Stage's season opened with a revival of John Patrick Shanley's Danny and the Deep Blue Sea and continued with the William Finn-Rachel Sheinkin musical The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (which transferred to Broadway where it currently vies for this year's Tony Award for Best Musical) and the world premiere of Paul Weitz's Privilege (starring Bob Saget).

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.

From Left: Billy Porter and S. Epatha Merkerson in <i>Birdie Blue</i>
From Left: Billy Porter and S. Epatha Merkerson in Birdie Blue Photo by Joan Marcus