Liz McCann May Introduce Vera Stark — and Lynn Nottage — to Broadway

News   Liz McCann May Introduce Vera Stark — and Lynn Nottage — to Broadway Will Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage make her Broadway debut with By the Way, Meet Vera Stark? Nothing is sure in show business, but commercial producer Elizabeth Ireland McCann (The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?) has secured the play's Broadway rights.

Lynn Nottage
Lynn Nottage Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

The rags-to-riches satire about racial stereotypes and job opportunities for people of color in the golden age of Hollywood got its Off-Broadway world premiere in spring 2011 in a production by Second Stage Theatre.

The New York Times first reported about McCann's commercial interest in the play on Sept. 14. Nottage won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for Ruined. According to the Times, McCann is in discussions with investors and Nottage (Fabulation, Intimate Apparel) about the terms and potential of moving forward with Vera Stark, aiming for Broadway in 2012.

McCann confirmed to Playbill.com that she "is exploring a possible future on Broadway for Lynn Nottage's By the Way, Meet Vera Stark with Jo Bonney attached to direct."

The practical and experienced McCann told the paper that her efforts may all turn out to be exploratory. There is no official production announcement yet — just a hope. It was also reported that different creative personnel and revisions since Second Stage might be part of the play's Broadway future.

With the exception of critics from the New York Times and the Village Voice, reviewers were mostly enthusiastic for the twice-extended, Bonney-directed Second Stage production, which played to boisterous houses of theatregoers who reveled in the raucous (and, at turns, bittersweet) Hollywood satire. McCann also told the Times that she is no longer planning to produce a Broadway revival of the comedy You Can't Take It With You. Casting and financing were reportedly the issues. McCann was not immediately available for comment, a spokesman said.

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A look at the few opportunities afforded black performers in Hollywood's golden age, By the Way, Meet Vera Stark opened May 9 and featured Stephanie J. Block, Tony Award nominee Daniel Breaker, Tony Award nominee David Garrison, Kimberly Hébert Gregory, Kevin Isola, Tony Award nominee Sanaa Lathan (in the title role) and Tony Award winner Karen Olivo.

According to earlier Second Stage notes, "Lynn Nottage draws upon the screwball films of the 1930s to take a funny and irreverent look at racial stereotypes in Hollywood. By the Way, Meet Vera Stark is a 70-year journey through the life of Vera Stark (Lathan), a headstrong African-American maid and budding actress, and her tangled relationship with her boss, a white Hollywood star (Stephanie J. Block) desperately grasping to hold on to her career. When circumstances collide and both women land roles in the same Southern epic, the story behind the cameras leaves Vera with a surprising and controversial legacy scholars will debate for years to come."

Act One concerns Vera's hopes to land a role in a Southern-set film in the studio-system days of Hollywood. Act Two is set decades later, as critics debate the work and legacy of Stark — with film clips.

Read the recent Playbill magazine feature about By the Way, Meet Vera Stark.

Sanaa Lathan
Sanaa Lathan Photo by Joan Marcus
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