Gem of the Ocean opens Feb. 15 at the Geary Theater for a run scheduled through March 12.
Michele Shay replaces previously announced star — and Santiago-Hudson's Broadway co-star — Phylicia Rashad in the role of Aunt Esther.
Shay was seen at A.C.T. in Hecuba and has played on Broadway in Wilson's Seven Guitars, which earned her a Tony nomination. Other credits includeMatura's Meetings, Home and For Colored Girls... as well as film turns in "He Got Game" and "One True Thing."
The actress is joined in the cast of Gem of the Ocean by A.C.T. core acting company members Steven Anthony Jones and Gregory Wallace.
Set in 1904, the play (which is the first, chronologically, of Wilson's decade plays) begins on the eve of Aunt Esther's 287th birthday. When Citizen Barlow comes to her Pittsburgh's Hill District home seeking asylum, she sets him off on a spiritual journey to find a city in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Santiago-Hudson earned a Tony Award for his featured turn in Seven Guitars. The actor has also appeared in Jelly’s Last Jam and in the title role of Henry VIII for the 1997 New York Shakespeare Festival. He recently adapted his Obie Award winning one-man play Lackawanna Blues for HBO. George C. Wolfe directed the film starring S. Epatha Merkerson, Jeffrey Wright, Liev Schreiber, Jimmy Smits, Rosie Perez and the scribe himself.
A.C.T.'s 39th anniversary season continues with Richard Brinsley Sheridan's The Rivals (March 23-April 23), Caryl Churchill's A Number (April 28-May 28) and Michael Feingold's adaptation of Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill's Happy End (June 8-July 9).
Tickets and subscriptions are available to the season at A.C.T., 415 Geary St. in San Francisco, CA, by calling (415) 749-2228. For more information, visit www.act-sf.org.