Called Fucking A, a title which some newspapers are refusing to print, the new play is at the Public's Anspacher Theater. Performances at the moment are expected to continue to March 30, though an extension is expected if schedules can be worked out. A recent report had the production all but sold out.
The play is a new take on "The Scarlet Letter," the Nathaniel Hawthorne novel that also inspired her In the Blood.
Here, Hester Prynne is Hester Smith (Merkerson), an abortionist. Smith believes her only son (Mos Def) has been wrongly imprisoned and has devoted her life to freeing him.
The show will include 10 original songs by Parks, which are laced throughout the text (the first time she has integrated songs into her text). The singing talents of Rubin-Vega and Mos Def, both recording artists, are exploited, and musicians are part of the experience. The song list is as follows: "Hard Times"
"Working Woman's Song"
"My Little Army"
"My Little Enemy"
"A Meat Man Is a Good Man To Marry"
"The Making of a Monster"
The cast also includes Susan Blommaert, Peter Gerety, Jojo Gonzalez, Jesse Lenat, Manu Narayan, Chandler Adrian Parker and Michole Briana White.
Merkerson appeared in the Broadway productions of Tintypes and The Piano Lesson before taking the role of a top cop on "Law & Order."
Mos Def, known as a rap singer, made the jump to the legit stage when The Public's staging of Topdog/Underdog moved to Broadway in 2002 after a run downtown in 2001 (Don Cheadle starred Off Broadway in the role Mos Def would eventually take over). Jeffrey Wright appeared both downtown and on Broadway in that 2002 Pulitzer Prize winner by Parks.
Tickets are $45. For more information, call (212) 239 6200 or consult www.publictheater.org.