By Robert Simonson
01 Jul 2001
King Hedley II, the latest drama by Pulitzer-winner August Wilson, about a black man defeated by pride and fate, will close on Broadway July 1. The play opened to mixed-to-positive reviews May 1. It will have played 24 previews and 72 regular performances — the briefest Broadway run a Wilson work has received on Broadway in many years.
The show was a Best Play Tony nominee (beaten by Proof), with Viola Davis winning a Featured Actress Award. Marion McClinton, who staged Off-Broadway's recently-extended Breath, Boom, directed Hedley, which stars Brian Stokes Mitchell, a Tony winner for Kiss Me, Kate and Tony nominee for Hedley.
August Wilson's drama reached New York City after a long and circuitous tour of the nation's regional houses typical of the playwright, capped by a month-long sojourn in Washington DC ending March 25. King Hedley previews began at Broadway's Virginia Theatre April 10.
Continuing his decade-by-decade examination of African-American life in the United States, author Wilson sets King Hedley II in 1985 in the black ghetto of Pittsburgh and deals with the triumphs and trials of a community torn apart. King Hedley rages against his past and present and his pregnant wife, Tonya, fears to bring a child into their world. A two time Pulitzer Prize-winner, Wilson also wrote Fences, The Piano Lesson and Seven Guitars.
Davis, who plays Tonya, appeared on Broadway in Wilson's Seven Guitars, a work that is a sort of prequel to Hedley. Also in the cast are Leslie Uggams as Ruby, Hedley's mother; Charles Brown as Elmore; Stephen McKinley Henderson as Stool Pigeon; and Monte Russell as Mister. The characters of Ruby and Stool Pigeon are carried over from Seven Guitars.
Hedley debuted at the Pittsburgh Public Theatre and then ran at the Huntington Theatre in Boston before beginning L.A. performances Sept. 2, 2000. A Chicago run at the Goodman Theatre followed, Nov. 30, 2000-Jan. 13, 2001.
Set design is by David Gallo, costumes by Toni-Leslie James, lighting by Donald Holder and sound design by Rob Milburn.
Tickets are $25-$70. For more information, call (212) 467-4600.