Leslie Lee's play, directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson and starring Leslie Uggams, begins previews on Aug. 5 and continues through Sept. 28 at the Peter Norton Space at 555 West 42nd Street (between Tenth and Eleventh Avenues). The Off-Broadway production opens Aug. 21.
Through The Signature Ticket Initiative, which seeks to make great theatre accessible to the broadest possible audience, all regularly priced single tickets ($65) are available for $20 during the regular runs of each production for the entire season.
Tickets are available on Signature's website at www.signaturetheatre.org, by phone at (212) 244-PLAY (7529) and in person at the box office.
The cast of The First Breeze of Summer will feature Harvey Blanks (Tabletop), Yaya DaCosta (Honeydripper), Sandra Daley (Defying Gravity), Crystal Anne Dickinson (Tyler Perry's "House of Payne"), Brandon Dirden (Prelude to a Kiss), Jason Dirden (Two Trains Running), Quincy Dunn-Baker (Romeo and Juliet), Marva Hicks (Caroline, or Change), John Earl Jelks (Radio Golf), Tuck Milligan (Book of Days), Gilbert Owuor (The Brothers Size), Brenda Pressley (Dreamgirls), Keith Randolph Smith (Come Back, Little Sheba) and Tony and Emmy Award winner Leslie Uggams ("Roots," Hallelujah, Baby!). The production will feature arrangements and music direction by Bill Sims, Jr.; set design by Michael Carnahan; costume design by Karen Perry; lighting design by Marcus Doshi; sound design by David Margolin Lawson and casting by Telsey + Company. Winnie Y. Lok is production stage manager.
The original production of The First Breeze of Summer, directed by NEC founder Douglas Turner Ward, received a Tony Award nomination for Best Play during its 1975 run at Broadway's Palace Theatre. According to Signature, the play "takes place over the course of one sweltering weekend in June, as the struggles of three generations of the Edwards family collide. Gremmar (Leslie Uggams), the family matriarch, looks back on her past and considers its legacy for her children and grandchildren as they confront the choices that will define their futures."
Lee's Obie Award-winning play is billed as "a timeless portrait of family bonds and coming of age."
Signature's 2008-2009 season will be an examination of a body of work from the historic Negro Ensemble Company's collective of writers, whose contributions have helped shape America's theatrical heritage. Ruben Santiago-Hudson will serve as associate artist for the season, which will also include Samm-Art Williams' Home, Charles Fuller's Zooman and the Sign, and a staged reading of Douglas Turner Ward's Day of Absence.
Subscriptions to the Negro Ensemble Company season are on sale now on Signature's website at www.signaturetheatre.org, by phone at (212) 244-PLAY (7529) and in person at the box office.