Kenny Leon Steps In for Ailing Gem Director McClinton in Boston; Opening Pushed Back

By Robert Simonson
03 Sep 2004

Kenny Leon
Kenny Leon
Photo by Aubrey Reuben

Kenny Leon has taken over directing duties of the Broadway-bound August Wilson play Gem of the Ocean, filling in for the ailing Marion McClinton.

McClinton was hospitalized on Aug. 31. As of Sept. 3, he was awaiting awaiting diagnosis.

The change in director has caused the Huntington to push back the start date of the Boston show. Instead of beginning previews Sept. 10 and closing Oct. 17, the first preview will now be Sept. 24 and the end date Oct. 30, confirmed the Huntington Theatre Company.

This will likely mean the Broadway engagement will be delayed as well. Gem of the Ocean will now begin previews at the Walter Kerr Theatre, home to many past Wilson plays, on Nov. 4. Opening night remains Nov. 11.

McClinton was previously hospitalized in January 2003 during the preview period of Ma Rainey's Black Bottom on Broadway. The New York Times reported Jan. 31 that McClinton has been hospitalized due to extremely low potassium levels, “related to a continuing kidney and high-blood-pressure problem.”



The staging of August Wilson's Gem of the Ocean will star Tony Award nominee Delroy Lindo, 2004 Tony Award winner Phylicia Rashad, Tony Award winner Ruben Santiago-Hudson and LisaGay Hamilton, the producers announced.

Kenny Leon directed Rashad to a Tony Award in last season's Broadway revival of A Raisin in the Sun.

The cast of Gem of the Ocean also includes Anthony Chisholm, John Earl Jelks and Raynor Scheine.

According to the casting announcement, "Gem of the Ocean is the ninth play in Wilson's extraordinary 10 play cycle chronicling the African American experience through each decade of the 1900s. Set in 1904, it becomes the first play chronologically in Wilson’s odyssey through the 20th century."

The play "begins on the eve of Aunt Ester's (a character first encountered in Wilson's Two Trains Running and whose death is told in King Hedley II) 287th birthday. Citizen Barlow, a man who in spiritual turmoil, arrives at Aunt Ester's house in Pittsburgh's Hill District and is soon set off on a spiritual journey to find the mythic City of Bones, leading him to startling discoveries and setting him on a course of duty and redemption."

Designers will be David Gallo (scenic), Constanza Romero (costumes), Donald Holder (lighting), Dan Moses Schreier (sound), with original music by Kathryn Bostic.