A black director staging a play by a Greek writer about an Italian (and possibly Jewish) explorer.
Sounds like a weird multi-cultural mix but listen to who's involved: Lloyd Richards, director of several August Wilson plays on Broadway (and the original A Raisin in the Sun); Nikos Kazantzakis, author of "Zorba The Greek" and "The Last Temptation of Christ;" and Christopher Columbus, accidental "discoverer" of America. Richards will direct the New York premiere of the late Kazantzakis' biographical drama, Christopher Columbus, Feb. 18-March 22 at NYC's New Federal Theatre.
Columbus will feature Mary Alice (Fences, Having Our Say) as the Voice of the Madonna, and Roger Robinson as the Voice of Christ. Also in the cast are Paul Campbell, Leelni Demoz, Russell Hornsby, John Little, Kim Yancey Moore, Gil Pacheco, Dennis Parlato, Ron Riley, Jose Ramon Rosario and David Wolos-Fonteno (Distant Fires). Designing the show are G.W. Mercier (set & costumes), Shirley Prendergast (lighting) and Genji Ito (sound), with Scott Richards providing musical underscoring.
Woodie King serves as artistic director for the venue, which specializes in shows on African-American themes. For tickets and information on Christopher Columbus call (212) 353-1176.
Christopher Columbus is only the first of three plays under the umbrella title "Three By 3", bringing directors of various ethnic backgrounds to Off-Broadway attention. The second show will be Mystery of the Rose Bouquet by Manuel Puig, author of the novel, Kiss of the Spider Woman. Puig's psychological thriller about the lives of two women will be staged by Max Ferra, artistic director of INTAR, which is devoted to Hispanic theatre.
Rose Bouquet runs March 11-April 12 at INTAR, 420 West 42nd St. For tickets call (212) 695-6134, x. 15.
Ending the series will be Aloha Las Vegas, a new play by Edward Sakamoto, author of Yellow is My Favorite Color and Manoa Valley. Sakamoto's comedy, about a widower leaving the serenity of Hawaii for "sin city" (aka Las Vegas), will be staged by Ron Nakahara at Pan Asian Rep, 423 West 46th St. For tickets call (212) 505-5655.
As a special offer, a $45 package to all three plays is available.
Asked how "Three By 3" came about, spokesperson Philip Bond (of Jeffrey Richards Associates) told Playbill On-Line (Feb. 5) that Ferra [pronounced fe-rah'] called King with the idea of a collaboration, and it just built from there. "The idea was for all three theatres to pool their resources," said Bond.
-- By David Lefkowitz