That a playwright decided to adapt Shakespeare's tale of political intrigue, Julius Caesar, to the cutthroat world of Wall Street is not surprising. That said playwright is, himself, a Wall Street honcho, and that financing for said Off-Off-Broadway production came from a Wall Street investment firm run by his CEO brother, makes it a real tale of gutsy, in-your-face playmaking.
After all, Julius Caesar tells of a conspiracy to bring down the king -- and the political spin put thereon by his fellow friends, Romans and countrymen. In Julius Caesar: The Fall And Rise Of A Wall Street Star, Caesar is a black man, Chief Executive Officer of a fictional securities firm (called "Rome Inc."). His white business partners attempt a hostile takeover, murdering Caesar in the process.
Playwright Todd Fletcher is director of international investor relations at Fletcher Asset Management, a minority-owned company run by Todd's brother, Alphonse "Buddy" Fletcher. "We've seen some Cassiuses and Brutuses pass through these doors," Todd told New York magazine. In the early 1990s, Buddy sued Kidder, Peabody & Co. For racial discrimination and short-changing his bonus. (He won $1.3 million but not the discrimination suit.)
Audiences for Caesar, which ran at the Samuel Beckett Theatre on Theatre Row in December, included Todd Fletcher's co-workers, business associates and friends from Harvard. There must have been no hard feelings, because all were invited to a high-class, post-performance party at Fletcher Asset Management offices. Todd told Playbill On-Line, "The synopsis was on the postcards and flyers..I think people had an idea what was coming. And those who walked in off the street were pleasantly surprised. It wasn't just the subject matter; we had a black woman as the Marc Antony character...and she ends up running the company."
Todd Fletcher, who contributed material to the Public Theatre's 1995 show, Street Songs, hopes Caesar will go on national tour in fall 1997, after his current rewrites: "We considered the 3-week run a workshop. In adapting the play, I cut 35 characters down to 5, which means right now, we don't get enough information about Caesar himself to know him." Fletcher noted that the Theatre Row production had high-class production values but was done rather inexpensively -- which won't be an option if the show tries for a commercial Off-Broadway run, making a tour more attractive at this point. Fletcher is also working on a new musical based on The Odyssey.. "It's about a black American soldier after World War II," he said. "He tries to get back home to his faithful wife, Penelope, in Harlem." Mostly sung-through, Fletcher is writing the book and music for that as-yet-untitled work.
--By David Lefkowitz