Final August Wilson Play Radio Golf Ends on Broadway July 1
By Ernio Hernandez
The late August Wilson's Radio Golf – the final play in his epic ten-play cycle chronicling the African-American experience in the twentieth century — closes on Broadway July 1.
Kenny Leon (Gem of the Ocean, A Raisin in the Sun) directed the play that stars Tony Award winner Tonya Pinkins and Harry Lennix. Also featured are 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 and officially opened May 8.
The 2007 nominee for the Best Play Tony Award played 64 performances and 17 previews at the Cort following 272 performances during its seven-city, pre-Broadway journey across the United States. The drama also earned the Best American Play honor from the New York Drama Critics Circle.
"Radio Golf marks the culmination of a great work, unquestionably the most significant accomplishment by any American playwright in the second half of the 20th century," producer and longtime Wilson collaborator Jack Viertel said in a statement. "August gave us a world of wonderful, deeply drawn characters, and great, heartbreakingly human stories. Radio Golf has an abundance of both. It's been an honor to be associated with August Wilson's work."
Wilson's widow Constanza Romero added, "Radio Golf in New York City is a song of love to August Wilson because everyone involved put the absolute best part of themselves into this project out of sheer dedication and recognition of this playwright's historic legacy. Indeed, I could not be more proud of what we achieved, for Radio Golf majestically completes August's life's mission — a 10-play century cycle marking for all time August Wilson's place in the history of the American theatre."
With Radio Golf, Wilson ended his ten-play cycle which chronicles the African-American experience decade by decade. The 1990s-set play involves real estate developers who look to tear down the home of recurring character Aunt Esther.
In the drama, "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.
The design team for Radio Golf featured 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 produced the Broadway run.
Radio Golf received four 2007 Tony Award nominations, including Best Play, Best Performance By a Featured Actor in a Play (Anthony Chisholm and John Earl Jelks) and Best Scenic Design of a Play (David Gallo). It picked up no awards.
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. 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.
Radio Golf performs at the Cort Theatre box office. For further information, visit radiogolfonbroadway.com.
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