The new Ossie Davis play, A Last Dance for Sybil, starring his wife, Ruby Dee, opens Dec. 3. The New Federal Theatre production, which began previews Nov. 6, opens under the direction of Edward Smith at the St. Clement's Theatre in Manhattan.
In A Last Dance for Sybil, a man who comes from money falls in love with a woman whose family has struggled to make it by. The drama that deals with power, economic freedom and family also features an ensemble cast that includes Earle Hyman (Tony nominated for The Lady from Dubuque and known on TV's "The Cosby Show" as Cliff's father Russell Huxtable), Arthur French (Mule Bone, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom), Herb Downer (The Merchant of Venice, Paul Robeson), Alice Spivak (Chaim's Love Song), Ben Hammer (The Gathering), Teagle F. Bougere (45 Seconds From Broadway), Craig Alan Edward, Count Stovall (Inacent Black) and Phillip Clark.
Dee has appeared in a number of Broadway productions including Checkmates, Purlie Victorious, A Raisin in the Sun and The Smile of the World. Other credits include Saint Lucy's Eyes, Boesman and Lena and her own play, My One Good Nerve.
Davis is perhaps best known as an actor on stage in A Raisin in the Sun and his Tony nominated turn in Jamaica, as well as in films like "No Way Out," "Joe Versus the Volcano" and "Grumpy Old Men." He also has appeared in many Spike Lee films including "School Daze," "Do the Right Thing," "Jungle Fever" and "Malcolm X" — in which he reads one of the two famous eulogies he presented in real life (the other being Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.). From the pen of Davis has come the Broadway play, Purlie Victorious, and its subsequent musical version, Purlie, and film version, "Gone Are the Days!"
Robert Joel Schwartz designs sets for the New Federal Theatre production. Shirley Pendergast handles lighting design. Tony Award-winning director Lloyd Richards — director of Broadway's Seven Guitars, Two Trains Running, The Piano Lesson, Joe Turner's Come and Gone, Fences, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom by playwright August Wilson and Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun — serves as supervising director. For tickets to A Last Dance for Sybil, at St. Clement's, 423 West 46 Street, call (212) 279-4200.
— by Ernio Hernandez