Last Wilson Work, Radio Golf — with Pinkins and Lennix — Opens on Broadway
By Ernio Hernandez
August Wilson's final play, Radio Golf, starring Tony Award winner Tonya Pinkins and Harry Lennix, officially opens on Broadway May 8 at the Cort Theatre.
Kenny Leon (Gem of the Ocean, A Raisin in the Sun) directs the play, which also features Anthony Chisholm, John Earl Jelks and James A. Williams, who have appeared in previous productions of the Wilson work. Radio Golf began previews April 20.
With Radio Golf, Wilson ended his ten-play cycle which chronicles the African-American experience in the 20th century, decade by decade. The 1990s-set play involves real estate developers who look to tear down the home of recurring character Aunt Esther.
"Harmond Wilks (Lennix), a charming and powerful African-American politician, is running for the highest office of his career, with the loving support of his savvy wife, Mame (Pinkins)," according to show notes. "As Harmond steps into political prominence, the past is just a few steps behind him ... and gaining fast."
Chisholm (as Elder Joseph Barlow), Jelks (as Sterling Johnson) and Williams (as Roosevelt Hicks) starred in the Yale Repertory Theatre world premiere and subsequent Seattle, Los Angeles, Baltimore and Chicago runs. (Jelks did not appear with his co-stars in the Boston run due to a temporary medical condition.)
The work debuted at Yale Repertory Theatre in 2005 and (following revisions) has played runs at Los Angeles' Mark Taper Forum, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Baltimore's CenterStage, Boston's Huntington Theatre Company, Chicago's Goodman Theatre and Princeton, NJ's McCarter Theatre prior to its Broadway berth.
"By the time the play opened in Los Angeles," according to Jujamcyn Theaters creative director Jack Viertel, "probably 85 percent of the rewriting was done and the rest was just done as he could afford to do it, as his health permitted." (For more from Viertel on the Radio Golf journey to Broadway, click here.)
The design team for Radio Golf features David Gallo (scenic), Susan Hilferty (costume), Donald Holder (lighting) and Dan Moses Schreier (sound).
Jujamcyn Theaters, Jeffrey Richards, Jerry Frankel, Margo Lion, Tamara Tunie, The Bunting Management Group, Lauren Doll, Fran Kirmser and Gordon Davidson produce the Broadway run.
Harry Lennix recently ended a Los Angeles run in the title role of Macbeth. The busy actor also appeared in the film "Stomp the Yard" and in a recurring role on television's "24."
Tonya Pinkins earned a Tony Award for Jelly's Last Jam. The actress originated and has inhabited her title role in Caroline, or Change for Broadway, Los Angeles and London runs. Other credits for the "All My Children" regular include Merrily We Roll Along, Chronicle of a Death Foretold, The Wild Party and Play On.
Anthony Chisholm has also appeared on Broadway in Wilson's Two Train's Running and opposite Jelks in Gem of the Ocean.
Wilson's epic cycle (in order of decade which the drama is set) includes Gem of the Ocean, Joe Turner's Come and Gone, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, The Piano Lesson, Seven Guitars, Fences, Two Trains Running, Jitney, King Hedley II and Radio Golf.
All of the aforementioned works have played on Broadway with the exception of Jitney — which enjoyed Off-Broadway runs at Second Stage Theatre and Union Square Theatre — and, until now, Radio Golf. All the Broadway productions received Tony Award nominations for Best Play with Fences taking home the prize. Wilson also garnered the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for that work and The Piano Lesson.
Tickets to Radio Golf are available by calling (212) 239-6200 and at the Cort Theatre box office. For further information, visit radiogolfonbroadway.com.
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