From his Louisiana childhood to his shooting death on the streets of Oakland in 1989, A Huey P. Newton Story follows the black activist's rise and fall through a "cinematic, stream of consciousness" monologue. The show, which won three NAACP Awards (actor, playwright and production) for its recent Los Angeles engagement, and is rumored to be a likely Obie-winner, will finish its run at the Public Theatre April 27, after being thrice extended. After opening Feb. 12, Story's closing was posted as March 9 but quickly pushed to March 23, then to April 6, and finally to April 27. Between previews and regular performances, A Huey P. Newton Story will have run 73 performances by its Sunday night finish.
Author Roger Guenveur Smith stars as Newton, who co-founded the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense as a response to white racism in America, and the growing feeling that Martin Luther King's pacificistic call for unilateral brotherhood wasn't quite getting the job done. The self directed monologue is taken from Newton's own written and recorded words and augmented with a soundscape designed by Marc Anthony Thompson. Sets and lighting for Huey P. Newton are by David Welle.
Previous Smith works in which he's performed include Frederick Douglass Now, Inside The Creole Mafia and Christopher Columbus 1992. He also acted in the Public's 1989 Coriolanus and directed Culture Clash's Off-Broadway show, Radio Mambo.
Presented by the Joseph Papp Public Theatre/New York Shakespeare Festival, Newton was also made possible by a grant from the Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust.
For tickets ($20) and information on A Huey P. Newton Story, which plays in the Public's LuEsther Hall, call (212) 239-6200. --By David Lefkowitz