Wilson's Gem of the Ocean with Rashad Begins NJ Performances Oct. 11

By Andrew Gans
October 11, 2005

The McCarter Theatre's production of August Wilson's Gem of the Ocean begins performances Oct. 11. Tony Award winner Phylicia Rashad reprises her role as Aunt Esther, which she created on Broadway in 2004.

Rashad received a Tony nomination for her work in the late Wilson's drama, which played Broadway's Walter Kerr Theatre Nov. 23, 2004-Feb. 6, 2005. In the McCarter engagement Rashad is joined by John Amos, best known for his work on such TV programs as "Good Times" and "The West Wing" as well as the award-winning miniseries "Roots." Amos plays Solly Two Kings.

Gem of the Ocean will run at the McCarter through Oct. 30. The production marks the directorial debut of Tony Award winner Ruben Santiago Hudson.

The cast also includes Chuck Patterson (Eli), Russell Hornsby (Citizen Barlow), Roslyn Ruff (Black Mary), Raynor Scheine (Rutherford Selig) and Keith Randolph Smith (Caesar). The creative team features set design by Michael Carnahan, costume design by Karen Perry, lighting design by Jane Cox and sound design by Garth Hemphill.

Gem of the Ocean is the ninth play in Wilson's ten-play cycle chronicling the African-American experience through each decade of the 1900s. The story, set in 1904, "begins on the eve of the 285th birthday of Aunt Ester (a recurring character in Wilson’s play cycle). Citizen Barlow, a man who is in spiritual turmoil, arrives at Aunt Ester's house in Pittsburgh's Hill District and is soon set off on a spiritual journey to find the mythic City of Bones, leading him to startling discoveries and setting him on a course of duty and redemption."

The production plays Tuesdays-Thursdays at 7:30 PM, Friday and Saturday evenings at 8 PM with matinees on Saturdays at 3 PM and Sundays at 2 PM. Tickets, priced $25-$53, are available by calling (609) 258-2787 or by visiting www.mccarter.org.

The McCarter Theatre is located at 91 University Place in Princeton, NJ.