Charles Fuller's 1982 Pulitzer, Drama Critics Circle, Outer Critics Circle and Theatre Club award-winning drama, A Soldier's Play, returned to New York, Nov. 19, when it opened at Theatre Four Off-Broadway. The Valiant Theatre Company production is directed by Clinton Turner Davis, who replaced Al Freeman, Jr., early in rehearsals due to "artistic differences" between Freeman and the production staff. (Oddly, the opening date for the play was pushed UP a day from the 20th; usually, when a show makes a significant cast or tech change, the opening date is moved later to allow for extra rehearsal and preview time.)
In A Soldier's Play, a black sergeant investigates a murder in a southern army camp during World War II. The original Broadway cast included Samuel L. Jackson and Denzel Washington, who later starred in the 1984 film version, "A Soldier's Story," alongside Adolph Caesar and Howard Rollins, Jr. Performing in this Soldier's Play will be P.J. Brown, Robb Leigh Davis, Geoffrey C. Ewing, Cedric Harris, Wood Harris, Danny Johnson, Jonathan Peck, Sean Squire, Keith Randolph Smith, Barton Tinapp and Jonathon Walker. Sets and costumes are by Felix E. Cochren, lighting is by Dennis Parichy, sound is by Guy Sherman/Aural Fixation.
Charles Fuller's other plays developed through the Negro Ensemble Company were Zooman And The Sign, The Brownsville Raid and In The Deepest Part Of Sleep. Director Clinton Turner Davis has worked at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Trinity Rep, Milwaukee Rep, and the current New Federal Theatre revival of August Wilson's Joe Turner's Come And Gone.
Founded in July 1995 by Herbert Beigel, Michael Murray and Edward Vassallo, the Valiant Theatre Company recently produced an Off-Broadway revival of Ionesco's The Rhinoceros and will next mount Michael Weller's new play, The Heart Of Art.
For tickets ($30-$40) and information on A Soldier's Story, call (212) 354-4660. -- By David Lefkowitz