Jo Bonney (Living Out, Fat Pig) directs the revival of Charles Fuller's racially charged, military murder mystery which opens Oct. 17 after previews from Sept. 20. The run — extended due to positive critical and audience response — will switch Thursday evening performances to Monday in lieu of Thanksgiving and so that star Diggs may attend the premiere of the upcoming "Rent" film.
In the 1982 Pulitzer Prize-winning drama set in 1944 at a black army base in rural Louisiana, a black military lawyer (Diggs) is sent from Washington to investigate the murder of a black Master Sergeant (McDaniel). In his search, he must overcome uncooperative officers including the victim's white commander (Pasquale) and fearful troops in this tale of deceit and prejudice. His investigation unearths trenchant racism in expected, as well as unexpected, places. The tale is largely told in flashback and jumps back and forth in time.
The all-male ensemble cast for the new staging will include Teagle Bougere (A Raisin in the Sun) as Private Tony Smalls, Joaquín Pérez Campbell ("War of the Worlds") as Lieutenant Byrd, Mike Colter ("Million Dollar Baby") as Private C.J. Memphis, Taye Diggs (Rent, "How Stella Got Her Groove Back") as Captain Richard Davenport, Nelsan Ellis ("Warm Springs") as Corporal Bernard Cobb, Joe Forbrich (Rose Rage) as Captain Wilcox, Michael Genet ("She Hate Me") as Private James Wilkie, Royce Johnson (Light Raise the Roof) as Corporal Ellis, Anthony Mackie (McReele, "The Manchurian Candidate") as Private First Class Melvin Peterson, James McDaniel ("NYPD Blue," Someone Who'll Watch Over Me) as Tech/Sergeant Vernon C. Walters, Dorian Missick ("Freedomland") as Private Louis Henson and Steven Pasquale (Fat Pig, "Rescue Me") as Captain Charles Taylor.
The work originally played Off-Broadway in a Negro Ensemble Company staging that featured Denzel Washington, Adolph Caesar and Samuel L. Jackson. Fuller later adapted the play for film in 1984 under the direction of Norman Jewison. Washington and Caesar again starred alongside Howard Rollins, Jr. Mackie recently appeared in a Boston reading of the work opposite Ruben Santiago-Hudson (Lackawanna Blues) at Boston's Wang Center for the Performing Arts.
The design team for the Off-Broadway run features Neil Patel (scenic), David Zinn (costume), David Weiner (lighting) and Fitz Patton (sound). OBIE Award-winning director Bonney previously staged Lisa Loomer's Living Out for Second Stage Theatre. Her other directing credits include Neil LaBute's Fat Pig, Lanford Wilson's Fifth of July, Jose Rivera's References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot, Eric Bogosian's Humpty Dumpty, suburbia, Funhouse, Pounding Nails in the Floor with My Forehead, Wake Up and Smell the Coffee and Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll among many others.
The Second Stage 2005-06 season will continue with the world premiere of Douglas Carter Beane's The Little Dog Laughed directed by Scott Ellis, a world premiere by Paul Weitz (Privilege, Roulette) and the New York premiere of Theresa Rebeck's The Water’s Edge starring Kate Burton and Tony Goldwyn under the direction of Will Frears.
For tickets to A Soldier's Play at Second Stage, 307 West 43rd Street (just off Eighth Ave.), call (212) 246-4422 or toll-free (800) 766-6048 or visit www.SecondStageTheatre.com.