Turn Me Loose , a new comedic drama by Gretchen Law about the life of comedian and civil rights activist Dick Gregory, officially opens Off-Broadway May 19 following previews that began May 3.
Emmy winner and Scandal star Joe Morton plays Gregory in the production at the Westside Theatre, alongside John Carlin and understudy Stephen Dexter. Directed by John Gould Rubin, the show is produced by singer John Legend and Mike Jackson, in association with Get Lifted Film Company.
Turn Me Loose chronicles Gregory's life and career. He is considered to be the first successful black comedian to make jokes about bigotry, and at age 83, he continues to make an impact today. In a recent interview President Obama called him one of his two favorite comics ever.
“It’s a beautiful piece of work,” said Morton in an earlier press release. “The conflict, basically, is watching this man who broke the color line on television in terms of being a comedian, morph into becoming the activist he eventually became.”
According to production notes, Turn Me Loose explores “how the overwhelming power of activism enticed Gregory from one of the most successful show business careers of the postwar era into a life of sacrifice and danger alongside Martin Luther King, Medgar Evers and other Civil Rights leaders. Wielding razor-sharp wit Gregory hacked away at myths about race, poverty, war, and politics.”
Turn Me Loose features scenic design by Chris Barreca (Rocky), costume design by Susan Hilferty (Wicked), lighting design by Stephen Strawbridge and sound design by Tony Award winner Leon Rothenberg (The Nance).
Jackie Judd, The Private Theatre, Eric Falkenstein, Ron Simons, Beth Hubbard/Elliot Osagie and Eagle Rock Productions produce along with Legend, Jackson and Get Lifted Film Company. Co-producers include Mary Ellen Lorenzo, Czekaj Artistic Productions, Peter Askin, Mike Fine and Jamie deRoy.