The actor will play Robert, the brilliant but mentally unbalanced mathematician who counsels his troubled daughter Catherine, who may or may not have inherited her dad's genius, as well as his instability.
Playing the daughter is Karen Aldridge. Catherine's sister Claire is portrayed by Ora Jones, and Dwain Perry is Hal, Catherine's timid suitor. The entire cast for the play is African-American—something sought by the Chuck Smith from the time the title was scheduled. The show is thought to be the first all-black professional staging of the play.
De Shields stopped the show each night in The Full Monty with his roof-raising song, "Big Black Man." He was nominated for a Tony Award for his work. More recently, he starred in the new revival of poet Derek Walcott's 1967 play Dream on Monkey Mountain at Off-Broadway Classical Theatre of Harlem—a rare non-musical role for the actor. His previous nomination was for 1997's Play On!. Other Broadway credits include The Wiz, Ain't Misbehavin' and 1984's André De Shields' Haarlem Nocturne, a revue which he conceived, wrote, directed, composed, choreographed and performed. He also appeared at the Goodman in Waiting for Godot.