Ruined Writer Lynn Nottage's By the Way, Meet Vera Stark Opens in NYC May 9

News   Ruined Writer Lynn Nottage's By the Way, Meet Vera Stark Opens in NYC May 9
 
Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage takes a cue from Hollywood screwball comedies for her new play, By the Way, Meet Vera Stark, about an African-American maid and her white movie-star employer in the Golden Age of Hollywood, opening May 9 in a world-premiere Off-Broadway production.

Karen Olivo
Karen Olivo Photo by Joan Marcus

Previews began April 6 at Second Stage Theatre. An extension to May 29 had already been announced.

Tony Award nominee Sanaa Lathan (of the 2004 revival of A Raisin in the Sun) plays the title character, and Stephanie J. Block (Broadway's The Pirate Queen, 9 to 5) is her boss. The cast also includes Tony nominee David Garrison (A Day in Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine), Tony nominee Daniel Breaker (Passing Strange), Kimberly Hebert Gregory (a 1998 Joseph Jefferson Award for Shakin' the Mess Outta Misery), Kevin Isola (Shakespeare in the Park's Twelfth Night, Off-Broadway's Everett Beekin) and Tony winner Karen Olivo (West Side Story).

Directed by Jo Bonney, By the Way, Meet Vera Stark is Nottage's first play to be produced in New York since she won the Pulitzer Prize for Ruined in 2009. (Those who assume that Nottage can't write comedy, given the serious content of Ruined, should look to her earlier play, Fabulation, for evidence. She also penned the acclaimed Intimate Apparel.)

Second Stage Theatre's Tony Kiser Theater is at 305 W. 43rd Street.

Stephanie J. Block
photo by Joan Marcus

According to Second Stage, "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.

Read the recent Playbill magazine feature about the play. Lathan will next be seen on the big screen in "Contagion," directed by Steven Soderbergh, in fall 2011. Her film credits include "A Wonderful World" opposite Matthew Broderick; "Something New," for which she received an NAACP nomination for Best Actress; the romantic comedy "Brown Sugar," alongside Taye Diggs, Queen Latifah and Mos Def; Gina Prince-Blythewood's romantic drama "Love and Basketball" with Omar Epps; "The Best Man," one of the top ten highest-grossing African American films in history (for which she also received an NAACP nomination); Paul W.S. Anderson's "Alien vs. Predator"; and the thriller "Out of Time," with Denzel Washington.

The creative team includes scenic designer Neil Patel, lighting designer Jeff Croiter, costume designer ESosa and sound designer/composer John Gromada.

Performances play on the following schedule: Tuesday at 7 PM, Wednesday–Saturday at 8 PM, Wednesday and Saturday at 2 PM and Sunday at 3 PM. (See the website for some changes to that schedule on specific dates.) 

For subscription or ticket information, call the Second Stage box office at (212) 246-4422 or visit www.2ST.com.

Sanaa Lathan
Sanaa Lathan Photo by Joan Marcus
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