For the past three years, Thunder Knocking on the Door, a musical drama written and directed by Keith Glover, with original music and lyrics by Grammy Award-winner Keb' Mo', has been making the rounds of just about every city but New York. That could change in a big way in late winter, if producers Mitchell Maxwell, Victoria Maxwell and Mark Balsam have their way.
According to Mitchell Maxwell, the show will finish up its regional string of engagements at the Great Lakes Theatre Festival in Cleveland, Oct. 31. The same cast will then reassemble for a Feb. 8-13, 2000 run at the Rich Forum in Stamford, CT, followed by a pre-Broadway try-out of Thunder at what Maxwell calls "a major theatre venue in Las Vegas," after which the play will come to New York "about March 1."
Maxwell says he's in discussions with several Broadway houses, though it's too early to say where the show, which is capitalized at $3 million, might wind up.
Thunder takes place at the crossroads of here and there, where a shape shifter challenges a songstress to a magical duel on the delta blues guitar. Glover discovered theatre when his mother took him to see For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When The Rainbow Is Enuf. An athletic high school student, in 1981 Glover wrote a play about football that came to the attention of New York's Young Playwrights Festival, where he was especially encouraged by mentor Ruth Goetz (The Heiress).
According to Maxwell, castmembers expected to follow the show to Broadway include Doug Eskew, Marva Hicks, Terry Burrell, Kevyn Morrow and Peter Jay Fernandez. Thunder was commissioned by the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, where it was first produced in 1996. It went on to receive productions at the Arena Stage and the Cincinnati Playhouse, winning the 1997 Osborn Award for Best Play from the American Theatre Critics Association.
Glover has written several plays, including Dancing on the Moonlight and Coming of the Hurricane. Keb' Mo' (Kevin Moore) received a Grammy in 1997 for his contemporary blues album "Just Like You."
Producer Maxwell is also trying to bring a production of Jessica Goldberg's prize-winning Refuge to off-Broadway this season, but details on that will not be available for at least another week.
-- By David Lefkowitz