John Guare's A Free Man of Color Brings 1801 New Orleans to Broadway Beginning Oct. 23
By Adam Hetrick
The world premiere of Tony Award-winning playwright John Guare's globe-spanning work A Free Man of Color, starring Tony winner Jeffrey Wright as an 1801 Don Juan, begins performances Oct. 23 at the Vivian Beaumont Theater.
Tony Award-winning director George C. Wolfe (Angels in America; Caroline, or Change) helms the production that is centered in New Orleans following the Haitian slave revolts, when its large population of Free People of Color (or the "Gens de Couleur Libres") inhabited a city that was more European than American in the early 17th century.
The expansive production, which shifts its setting across the globe from New Orleans, to Haiti, to Napoleon's court, delayed the start of Broadway previews from Oct. 21 to Oct. 23 in order to allow for additional technical rehearsals.
A Free Man of Color will open as scheduled Nov. 18.
Wright (Angels in America, Topdog/Underdog) leads a cast that also features John McMartin (Follies, Grey Gardens, Show Boat), Veanne Cox ( La Cage aux Folles; Caroline, or Change), mos (Topdog/Underdog), Reg Rogers (The Royal Family), Paul Dano ("There Will Be Blood"), Peter Bartlett (The New Century), Nicole Beharie (Father Comes Home from the War), Arnie Burton (39 Steps), Rosal Colon, Sara Gettelfinger (Grey Gardens), Joseph Marcell, Nick Mennell, Teyonnah Parris, Brian Reddy (Finian's Rainbow), Triney Sandoval (Frost/Nixon), Robert Stanton (The Coast of Utopia), Wendy Rich Stetson (In the Next Room…), David Emerson Toney (Juan Darien), Justina Machado ("Six Feet Under"), Yao Ababio, Derric Harris, Esau Pritchett, Jerome Stigler and Senfaub Stoney.
The production has set design by David Rockwell, costume design by Ann Hould-Ward, lighting design by Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer, sound design by Scott Stauffer, original music by Jeanine Tesori and choreography by Hope Clarke.
According to LCT, "A Free Man of Color is a freewheeling epic set in 1801 New Orleans. Jacques Cornet, the title character, is a new world Don Juan and the wealthiest inhabitant of this sexually charged and racially progressive city. Jacques thinks all is well in his paradise until history intervenes, setting off a chain of events which no one, much less this free man of color, realizes is about to splinter the world."
A Free Man of Color marks Guare's return to LCT after his plays The House of Blue Leaves, Six Degrees of Separation, Four Baboons Adoring The Sun and Chaucer in Rome all received their premieres there. The play marks Wolfe's LCT debut.
Guare's plays include Six Degrees of Separation, House of Blue Leaves, Four Baboons Adoring the Sun, Landscape of the Body and the book to the musical Sweet Smell of Success. He earned Tony Awards for the book and lyrics to the 1971 musical Two Gentlemen of Verona.
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