The Public Theater and National Black Theatre have announced the full cast for the upcoming co-production of Fat Ham by James Ijames. The play makes its New York premiere in The Public's Anspacher Theater May 12 with a Joseph Papp Free Performance ahead of opening night May 26. It will run through June 12.
Starring in the production are Nikki Crawford as Tedra, Chris Herbie Holland as Tio, Billy Eugene Jones as Rev/Papp, Adrianna Mitchell as Opal, Calvin Leon Smith as Larry, Marcel Spears as Juicy, and Benja Kay Thomas as Rabby.
The Public's Associate Artistic Director and Resident Director Saheem Ali will direct the production. Fat Ham made its world premiere during the shutdown as a filmed production produced by Philadelphia's Wilma Theater and was presented digitally in 2021.
The creative team will also feature scenic designer Maruti Evans, costume designer Dominique Fawn Hill, lighting designer Stacey Derosier, sound designer Mikaal Sulaiman, hair and wig designer Earon Chew Nealey, fight director Lisa Kopitsky, and choreographer by Darrell Moultrie. Props will be by Claire M. Kavanah, and illusions will be by Skylar Fox. Jereme Kyle will serve as production stage manager and Ryan Kane will serve as stage manager.
Fat Ham is Ijames' reinvention of Shakespeare's Hamlet. A comic tragedy, the play follows queer, Southern college kid Juicy as he grapples with identity questions, the ghost of his father, and a supernatural demand for vengeance. Taking a different path, Juicy tries to break the cycles of trauma and violence he has inherited.
“I’m thrilled that my play Fat Ham is being produced in collaboration between The Public Theater and National Black Theatre in Harlem,” said Ijames in a statement. “It feels both like a new beginning and a reunion all at once. Both theaters represent the very best that theater can offer to its community, and I’m honored to be invited into these two artistic spaces.”
The Public and National Black Theatre have collaborated often in the past, and Ali has previously collaborated with Ijames on Kill Move Paradise, which made its world premiere at National Black Theatre in 2017.
For tickets and more information, visit PublicTheater.org.