Crossroads Theatre Company, the 1999 Tony Award winner for Outstanding Regional Theatre, will present three plays -- including two world premieres -- and the Duke Ellington-scored musical, Play On!, in its 1999-2000 season/
The New Brunswick, NJ, regional troupe has been ground zero for the cultivation of new African-American work, including Broadway's current revue, It Ain't Nothin' But the Blues, co-produced with San Diego Repertory and Alabama Shakespeare Festival.
The season is as follows:
• Kim Coles of TV's "Living Single" will star in Homework, a comedy she co-wrote with Charles Randolph-Wright, directed by Wright. The play concerns three girlfriends (all played by Coles) in Brooklyn, following them from fourth grade through college and into their respective careers ("in which one finds fame, one finds success and one finds herself," according to a press release). The men in the lives of the women are played by three actors. The play had previous productions at the Here Arts Center in New York City in 1997, followed by productions in Los Angeles. Previews begin Sept. 23, opening is Sept. 30. Performances continue to Oct. 31.
• Play On!, the short-lived 1997 Broadway musical conceived by Sheldon Epps with a book by Cheryl L. West, combines tunes by Ellington with an updated take on Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, in which a woman disguises herself as a man to get close to the Duke's Orchestra in 1940s Harlem. Andre DeShields, of Broadway's Ain't Misbehavin' and Play On!, directs. Previews begin Nov. 18, opening is Nov. 26. Performances continue to Jan. 2, 2000. • Yellow Eyes, a world premiere by Migdalia Cruz, tells of a young woman growing up at the end of the Civil Rights era and concerns her unusual ancestry and unique bond with her grandfather, born into slavery in Puerto Rico. This is the first play to surface in Crossroads' initiative to commission new works that address the relationship between African Americans and other people of color. It will be Crossroads' 39th world premiere. Talvin Wilks directs. Previews begin Jan. 27, 2000, opening is Feb. 3. Performances continue to Feb. 27.
• Kathleen McGhee Anderson's Venice tells the story of two families -- one black, one white -- drawn together by unexpected circumstances and forced to confront one another. McGhee Anderson's Oak & Ivy and Mothers were seen previously at Crossroads. Randolph-Wright directs. This will be Crossroads' 40th world premiere. Previews begin March 9, 2000, opening is March 16. Performance continue to April 9, 2000.
For information about Crossroads' 1999-2000 season, call (732) 249 5560.
-- By Kenneth Jones