Fences, with Washington and Davis and Music By Marsalis, Returns to Broadway
By Andrew Gans
The first Broadway revival of Fences, the 1987 Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning play by August Wilson, begins previews April 14 at the Cort Theatre. Two-time Academy Award winner Denzel Washington stars.
Oscar nominee and Tony winner Viola Davis plays mother and wife Rose opposite the Troy Maxson of Oscar winner Washington. Kenny Leon (Broadway's Radio Golf, Gem of the Ocean, A Raisin in the Sun) directs the production, which will officially open April 26.
Branford Marsalis, the Grammy-winning saxophonist, has composed music for the Broadway revival. Marsalis recently stated, "What a dream come true to be making my 'Broadway debut' composing music for this new production of August Wilson's Fences. I had the great opportunity to sit-in during rehearsals over the weekend and observe [director] Kenny Leon and these brilliant artists bringing this play to life. I look forward to the challenge of creating music that not only complements their performances, but enhances the experience for those sitting in the theater."
The design team includes Santo Loquasto (set design), Constanza Romero (costume design), Brian MacDevitt (lighting design) and ACME Sound Partners (sound design).
Fences is the 1987 Pulitzer Prize and Tony-winning play by Wilson — one play in a cycle of ten about the African-American experience in the 20th century.
This is a strictly limited 13-week engagement.
Fences takes place over eight years from 1957 to 1965. Washington stars as Troy Maxson, a Pittsburgh sanitation worker who once dreamed of a baseball career, but was too old when the major leagues finally admitted black players. According to production notes, "As he faces off against the racial barrier at work and his own disappointments, Troy also grapples with his son, Cory, over the teenager's hope for a football scholarship and with his wife, Rose (Viola Davis), who confronts Troy over a child he has fathered with another woman."
Fences originally starred James Earl Jones as Troy. The original Broadway production won four Tony Awards including Best Play, the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, three Drama Desk Awards, including Best Play and the NY Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play.
Washington returns to Broadway for the first time since starring in Julius Caesar (2005). He made his Broadway debut in Checkmates (1988). Other theatre credits include Richard III, The Mighty Gents, Ceremonies in Dark Old Men, When the Chickens Come Home to Roost and an Obie Award for A Soldier's Play. He is a two-time Academy Award winner for his performances in "Training Day" and "Glory" and received Oscar nominations for his performances in "The Hurricane," "Malcolm X" and "Cry Freedom."
Davis won Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards for her performance in August Wilson's King Hedley II. She was nominated for an Academy Award, Golden Globe, SAG and Critics Choice Awards and won the National Board of Review Award for Best Breakthrough Performance for "Doubt." She also appeared in the Broadway production of August Wilson's Seven Guitars (Tony, Drama Desk nominations, Outer Critics Circle, Theatre World Awards). Off-Broadway credits include Intimate Apparel (Drama Desk, Drama League, Obie, Audelco Awards), Everybody's Ruby (Obie, Drama Desk Award, Outer Critics Circle nomination for Featured Actress), Pericles and As You Like It.
The late Wilson's plays include 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. He won Pulitzer Prizes for Fences (1987) and The Piano Lesson (1990), a Tony Award for Fences, Great Britain's Olivier Award for Jitney, as well as eight New York Drama Critics Circle Awards.
Fences is produced by Carole Shorenstein Hays (who produced the original Broadway production) and Scott Rudin. Visit www.FencesOnBroadway.com.
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