Broadway's Cat Revival, with Jones and Rashad, to Play London's West End

News   Broadway's Cat Revival, with Jones and Rashad, to Play London's West End
The 2008 Broadway revival of Tennessee Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, which featured an African-American cast led by James Earl Jones as Big Daddy and Phylicia Rashad as Big Mama, is heading to the West End.
Photo by Joan Marcus

Jones and Rashad are set to reprise their performances for London audiences, and British actor Adrian Lester will step into the role of Brick, which was played on Broadway by film actor Terrence Howard. Performances are due to begin Dec. 1 at a theatre still be announced. Debbie Allen will reprise her directorial duties.

When this production opened at Broadway's Broadhurst Theatre in 2008, it marke the first time that an African-American cast had appeared in the Williams play on Broadway. In a statement, its Broadway producer Stephen C. Byrd commented, "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof has been revived on Broadway four times before; this production marks the first African-American production approved by the Williams estate for the Broadway stage. This revival of Cat is not only making Broadway history, it is making American theatre and black theatre history too!"

James Earl Jones made his Broadway debut in 1958, and has appeared in numerous plays there, including winning the Tony Award twice, for The Great White Hope in 1968 and Fences in 1987, as well as playing the title role of Othello (Winter Garden Theatre, 1982) opposite Christopher Plummer as Iago. Prior to Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, he appeared in a 2005 revival of On Golden Pond. He may be best known as the voice of Darth Vader in the original "Star Wars" trilogy. On TV he played the older version of author Alex Haley in the TV mini-series "Roots: The Next Generation"; screen roles include appearances in "Conan the Barbarian," "Field of Dreams," "Cry, the Beloved Country," "The Hunt for Red October," "Patriot Games” and "Clear and Present Danger."

Phylicia Rashad made her Broadway debut in The Wiz in 1975, and has since appeared there in Dreamgirls, Into the Woods, Jelly's Last Jam, A Raisin in the Sun (for which she received the 2004 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play, and was the first African-American actress to win in this category), Gem of the Ocean (Tony nominated for Best Actress in a Play), Cymbeline and August: Osage County (beginning May 26). She is best known for her role as Clair Huxtable in the long-running NBC sitcom "The Cosby Show," which aired between 1984 and 1992, for which she was twice Emmy-nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series.

Adrian Lester's extensive stage pedigree includes playing Rosalind in Declan Donnellan's 1991 Cheek by Jowl production of As You Like It; starring as Bobby in Sam Mendes' Donmar Warehouse production of Sondheim and Furth's Company that subsequently transferred to the West End and won him the Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Musical in 1996; playing the title role in Peter Brook's 2001 production of Hamlet that toured internationally; and playing the title role in Nicholas Hytner's 2003 production of Henry V at the National Theatre. On screen he starred in the film "Primary Colors" opposite John Travolta, and the BBC TV series "Hustle" and "Bonekickers." Director Debbie Allen made her Broadway directorial debut with this production, but she has previously appeared there as a two-time Tony-nominated star of the 1980 revival of West Side Story and the 1996 revival of Sweet Charity, and also choreographed the notorious flop musical version of Carrie.

Further casting and booking details are to be announced.

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