Woodard Is American Arkadina in Bway's Drowning Crow, Taylor's Seagull Rewrite
By Kenneth Jones
Emmy Award-winner Alfre Woodard will star in the Broadway bow of Regina Taylor's Drowning Crow, the African-American resetting of Chekhov's The Seagull, produced by Manhattan Theatre Club at Broadway's Biltmore Theatre in 2004.
Marion McClinton directs the staging, which opens Feb. 19, 2004, following previews from Jan. 29.
According to production notes, "Drowning Crow takes place on the Gullah Islands off the coast of modern day South Carolina, as a family of African-American artists comes together for a very momentous few days. Woodard plays the family matriarch, classical actress Josephine Nicholas Ark Trip."
She joins previously announced Anthony Mackie ("8 Mile") who will play her son, Constantine, aka C Trip. The play had its world premiere at The Goodman Theatre in Chicago in 2002. Additional casting will be announced shortly.
Woodard made her stage debut in 1974 at Arena Stage in Washington, DC. Following roles in the films "Remember My Name" (1978) and "H.E.A.L.T.H." (1979), she was Oscar-nominated for her performance as Geechee in 1983's "Cross Creek." She went on to appear on the TV series, "St. Elsewhere" and won Emmys for her recurring roles on "Hill Street Blues" and "L.A. Law" and an ACE award for the made-for-cable "Mandela" (1987). Other film credits include "Miss Firecracker" (1989), Lawrence Kasdan's "Grand Canyon" (1991) John Sayles' "Passion Fish" (1992, Golden Globe nomination), "Rich In Love" (1993), "Crooklyn" (1994), "Maya Angelou's Down in the Delta," "Funny Valentine" and "Mumford."
In 1995, she received an Emmy nomination and a Screen Actors Guild Best Actress Award for her performance in "The Piano Lesson" and two years later won an Emmy, a Golden Globe, and a SAG Award for her portrayal of the title character of "Miss Evers' Boys," a nurse who consoled many of the subjects of the notorious 1930s "Tuskeegee Study of Untreated Blacks with Syphilis." She was a Broadway understudy in Me and Bessie, so technically, Drowning Crow is not her Broadway debut.
Mackie made his screen debut opposite Eminem in "8 Mile" and his Broadway debut in August Wilson's "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom." He was Don Cheadle's understudy for the Public Theater run of Topdog/Underdog.
Playwright Regina Taylor penned and directed the popular regional play, Crowns, based on the book of the same name, about the hats worn by churchgoing African-American women.
Her play Oo-Bla-Dee received its world premiere at the Goodman, transferred to the La Jolla Playhouse, and was awarded the American Theater Critics/Steinberg New Play Award.
Taylor was commissioned to write the book for the musical Jubilee, based on the Fisk Jubilee Singers, for the Alliance Theatre and Oo-Bla-Dee for the Goodman Theatre. Her play A Night in Tunisia premiered at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival and will be produced in 2003-04 by the Old Globe Theatre.
As an actress her Broadway credits include Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, Celia in As You Like It, and Witch No. 1 in Macbeth. Off-Broadway she has appeared in Machinal and Map of the World at the Public Theater; The Illusion at the New York Theatre Workshop; as Ariel in The Tempest, for which she won a Dramalogue Award; and most recently in Jar the Floor at Second Stage as well as both the New York and Los Angeles companies of The Vagina Monologues. For her role as Lilly Harper on the television series "I'll Fly Away," she won an NAACP Image Award, was nominated for an Emmy Award, and received the Golden Globe Award for Best Leading Dramatic Actress.
McClinton has been involved with August Wilson's work for many years, having directed Gem of the Ocean, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, King Hedley II (Broadway, Tony nomination), Two Trains Running (Center Stage), Fences (Indiana Rep, Pittsburgh Public), The Piano Lesson (Penumbra Theatre), Seven Guitars (Pittsburgh Public, Center Stage), Joe Turner's Come and Gone (Missouri Rep) and Jitney (Pittsburgh Public, Center Stage, Studio Arena, Geva, Goodman Theatre, Mark Taper, Second Stage and The Royal National in London).
The Biltmore Theatre, opening this fall with the New York premiere of Richard Greenberg's The Violet Hour, has been reclaimed and refurbished by MTC, marking the longtime Off-Broadway troupe's Broadway bow. The Biltmore is at 261 W. 47th Street.
For information, visit www.ManhattanTheatreClub.
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