At one time long absent from the stage, Tony-winning actress Leslie Uggams has been making up for it in recent years with numerous regional and New York appearances. Her latest, Aug. 10-Sept. 17, has been recreating her role in the popular comedy-drama, The Old Settler, in a run at Hartford, CT's TheaterWorks. Uggams starred in the play three years ago, first at upstate New York's Geva and then at Virginia Stage, before coming to Off-Broadway's Primary Stages in June 1998 for an extended run of the show.
The show is sold out for the rest of its run, but a waiting list is taken one hour before each performance for side-seats and returned tickets. No waiting list reservations will be taken by phone, according to the theatre's answering machine message (reached Sept. 15).
Uggams won a Tony Award for Best Actress (Musical) for Hallelujah, Baby!, appeared in Play On! at NJ's Crossroads Theatre, and just a few weeks ago starred as Maria Callas in Master Class at FL's TheatreFest, the professional theatre in residence at Montclair State University. Playing her sister in Settler is Lynda Gravatt, who won a Theatre World Award for playing the role Off Broadway opposite Uggams.
As for John Henry Redwood's The Old Settler, the "old settler" of the title is Elizabeth, a single woman over 40 with no marriage prospects, who lives with her sister Quilly in a Harlem apartment. Quilly and Elizabeth share an uneasy peace after Quilly stole and lost her sister's last boyfriend. Their relationship is threatened again, however, by the arrival of Husband, a youngster from the rural South, who begins to fall for Elizabeth.
Author Redwood's popular love story, set in 1940's Harlem, officially opens Aug. 18. Co-starring are Godfrey L. Simmons Jr. (another Off Broadway Settler veteran), and Lisa Renee Pitts. Harold Scott directs. Designing the show are Bob Phillips (set), Frances Aronson (lighting), Debra Stein (costumes) and Jim van Bergen (sound). Tickets are $20-$25. TheaterWorks is located at 233 Pearl Street in Hartford. For information call (860) 527-7838.
-- By Christine Ehren
and David Lefkowitz