Pork Pie, A Mythic Jazz Fable, first read a year ago at Denver Center Theatre Company's annual TheatreFest, gets a full world premiere staging May 17-June 16 at DCTC's Stage Theatre, with Broadway's Alton Fitzgerald White, Roger Robinson and Vivian Reed in the spotlight.
Israel Hicks directs the production of Michael Genet's jazz infused play, which officially opens May 24. Set in Darlington, SC, Pork Pie tells the story of a young man's search for his father, a jazz musician, who has been enticed and held captive by the Devil's wife, owner and hostess of The Pork Pie Hat Bar.
The action is punctuated and propelled by on-stage performances of five jazz musicians. Director Hicks (Waiting to be Invited) worked closely with orchestrator, arranger and musical director Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson (Dream on Monkey Mountain) and brought together drummer-assistant musical director Eli Fountain, pianist George Caldwell, saxophonists Lawrence A. Clark and Anthony E. Nelson, and bass player Billy Johnson to perform the jazz classics that spark Pork Pie.
The play was read in the DCTC's staged-readings festival in 2000 and fast-tracked to the current mainstage season. It won a prestigious grant from The Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays.
Set designer Vicki Smith creates a mythical world framed by a rough-hewn barn and porch-accented house, behind a cornfield and backed by rolling hills, according to production notes. David Kay Mickelson is costume designer, Allen Lee Hughes is lighting designer and David R. White is sound designer. The cast of Pork Pie includes Roger Robinson (Tony Award nominee for Seven Guitars) as The Storyteller, Vivian Reed (Tony Award nominee for Bubbling Brown Sugar) as The Devil's Wife, Alton Fitzgerald White (Broadway and national tour of Ragtime) as The Champion, Ron Cepha Jones (Jesus Hopped the A Train at Classic Stage Company) as Charlie, Kim Staunton (The Piano Lesson on Broadway) as Mahaley, Ora Jones (Boy Gets Girl at Manhattan Theatre Club) as Mable, Bobby Daye (Smokey Joe's Cafe on Broadway) as Volcy, Kimberly JaJuan (Marie Christine and Ragtime on Broadway) as Maggie and ensemble members Billöah Greene, Janice Guy-Sayles, Keith L. Hatten, January Murelli and Glenn Turner.
Ticket prices range $23-$28 for preview performances, $25-$31 for Early Bird performances from opening night through the first Wednesday and $28-$38 for regular performances. For information, call (303) 893-4100 or (800) 641-1222 or visit the website at www.denvercenter.org.
— By Kenneth Jones