See the work of these Black theatre artists in New York this fall
Black theatre artists are represented on and off Broadway as actors, directors, playwrights, producers, and more.
The 2021-22 Broadway season was one for the books because it featured the most works penned by Black writers ever. This fall's season of New York theatre promises to build on the diversity of last season, with Black artists involved in on Broadway and Off Broadway in every imaginable way: as playwrights, actors, directors, and more.
Below, find out more about the exciting Black voices populating New York stages right now, and get tickets to see the work of these celebrated veterans and exciting new artists.
The cast of Death of a Salesman
It’s impossible to shout out just one person in the illustrious cast of this classic play revival, which includes Tony Award winner Wendell Pierce (The Wire), Tony nominee Sharon D Clarke (Caroline, or Change), and Tony winner André de Shields (Hadestown). Many consider Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller one of the best plays of the 20th century, and this is its first Broadway production with Black actors in the lead roles. These incredible artists are bringing a fresh perspective to this legendary play about the American dream. Death of a Salesman runs at the Hudson Theatre until January 15.
The cast and creative team of The Piano Lesson
There's a star-studded, all-Black cast in this revival of The Piano Lesson, the acclaimed play by August Wilson. Samuel L. Jackson (Marvel’s The Avengers), Danielle Brooks (Orange Is the New Black), and John David Washington (BlackKklansman) lead this family drama set during the Great Depression. The Piano Lesson won the Pulitzer Prize and is part of Wilson’s 10-play Pittsburgh Cycle, about Black Life in 20th-century America, with each play taking place in a different decade. This Piano Lesson production also features the first Black woman to direct a Wilson play for Broadway: LaTanya Richardson Jackson. The Piano Lesson runs at the Barrymore Theatre until January 15.
Jesse Williams and Brandon J. Dirden of Take Me Out
Grey’s Anatomy star Jesse Williams made headlines with his performance as a newly out baseball player in Take Me Out, which just won the Tony Award for Best Play Revival. Take Me Out is returning to Broadway on October 27 for another limited run. Much of the original cast returns, including Williams and Brandon J. Dirden, the rival to Williams’s character in the play. Take Me Out marked Williams's Broadway debut, but Dirden is a regular on Broadway. He has brought his powerful stage presence to the role of Dr. Martin Luther King (in All the Way) and earlier this year, to the role of a frustrated car factory employee in Skeleton Crew. Take Me Out runs at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre from October 27 to January 29.
Suzan-Lori Parks of Topdog/Underdog and more
Suzan-Lori Parks is having a busy fall. Her Pulitzer-winning play Topdog/Underdog, about the power struggle between two Black brothers, is getting a 20th-anniversary Broadway revival with Corey Hawkins and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II. Downtown, her theatrical concert Plays for the Plague Year (which she wrote during the height of the pandemic) is playing at The Public Theater, and a new musical The Harder They Come, for which she wrote the book, will follow there in the winter.
Many consider Parks one of the best writers working today because of her genre-defying, probing works that brim with humor and social commentary. And it’s not just her plays that are impressive, but the casts as well: Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (Watchmen) and Corey Hawkins (the In the Heights film) star in Topdog/Underdog, and Parks herself is making her stage debut in Plague Year. Topdog/Underdog is at the Golden Theatre until January 15. Plays for the Plague Year runs November 4 - 27, and The Harder They Come will run this winter, with dates to be announced.
Justin Cooley of Kimberly Akimbo
Justin Cooley had just graduated from high school when he made his professional debut opposite Tony winner Victoria Clark in Kimberly Akimbo, which ran Off Broadway earlier this year and is about a teenage girl with a medical condition that causes her to age prematurely. Playing the anagram-loving Seth to Clarke’s Kimberly, Cooley more than held his own with Clark. It was hard to believe that the actors had a 50-year age gap between them, their chemistry was that strong! Cooley reprises his role as Seth in Kimberly Akimbo on Broadway at the Booth Theatre.
Lorna Courtney and Melanie La Barrie of & Juliet
You’ve never heard Britney Spears’s “...Baby One More Time” until you’ve heard Lorna Courtney’s emotional, slow rendition of the song in & Juliet, the new musical featuring the music of hit-maker Max Martin. & Juliet, which began in London's West End, imagines what would happen if Juliet survived at the end of Shakespeare's tragic play. Courtney was previously an understudy in West Side Story and Dear Evan Hansen. In & Juliet, she originates a lead role for the first time, and judging from her vocals when the & Juliet cast performed on America’s Got Talent, she's a star in the making. Alongside her is Melanie La Barrie as the Nurse, reprising her acclaimed role from the West End. & Juliet begins performances at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre on October 28.
Jeremy Pope of The Collaboration
Jeremy Pope was last seen on Broadway in 2019, when he became the sixth-ever actor to be nominated for two Tony Awards in the same season, for Choir Boy and Ain’t Too Proud. There’s no doubt he’s got his eyes on the Tony Award for his next role, as the tortured street artist Jean-Michel Basquiat in The Collaboration by Anthony McCarten, opposite Paul Bettany (Avengers: Infinity War) as Andy Warhol. Pope’s performance was critically acclaimed in London, and New York audiences are eager to see how he paints a new portrait of an NYC icon. The Collaboration runs at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre from November 29 to January 22.
Jordan E. Cooper and the cast of Ain't No Mo'
Jordan E. Cooper was new to New York City when he wrote and starred in his play Ain’t No Mo’ off Broadway, playing a female flight attendant helping African American passengers relocate back to Africa. The play caught the attention of Oscar-winning producer Lee Daniels, who is bringing Ain’t No Mo’ to Broadway and making Cooper, at just 27, the youngest Black American playwright to have a play on Broadway. With Cooper once again starring in his own play, a hilarious, wild ride is in store. Buckle up. Ain’t No Mo’ runs at the Belasco Theatre from November 3 to February 26.
Common and Stephen McKinley Henderson of Between Riverside and Crazy
Emmy, Oscar, and Grammy-winning rapper Common and longtime theatre actor Stephen McKinley Henderson (Dune) play son and father in Between Riverside and Crazy, the Pulitzer-winning play by Stephen Adly Guirgis. The play follows a retired cop and his son who just got out of jail, who live together in a rent-stabilized apartment on the Upper West Side that might be taken from them. Henderson has acted on Broadway several times (most notably in many August Wilson plays), but Common is making his Broadway debut — and if he secures a Tony Award, he'll achieve EGOT status. No matter what, this duo will bring down the house. Between Riverside and Crazy runs at the Hayes Theater from November 30 to February 12.
Audra McDonald of Ohio State Murders
Audra McDonald will lead the cast of Ohio State Murders by modern African American playwright Adrienne Kennedy in the newly christened James Earl Jones Theatre — what a trio of Black theatre artists! Tony winner Kenny Leon is directing the production so it’s more like a theatre quadruple. Off-Broadway theatre enthusiasts widely admire the multi-award-winning Kennedy, but the 91-year-old has never had a Broadway production. There's better steward for her debut than six-time Tony winner McDonald. Ohio State Murders, about a woman who witnesses a crime at her former university, runs from November 11 to February 12.
Amber Ruffin and Adrianna Hicks of Some Like It Hot
All eyes are on the creators of the Some Like It Hot musical, who are tasked with making the 1959 film funny to modern audiences. But with comedian and TV personality Amber Ruffin co-writing the book, there's sure to be plenty of contemporary comedic flair. Adrianna Hicks, one of the original Broadway queens of Six, will play Sugar, the role originated by Marilyn Monroe. This definitely will not be like your mom’s Some Like It Hot — the show runs at the Shubert Theatre from November 1.
More Black artists on stage this season
Learn more about performers, writers, and more featured earlier this theatre season. Their shows may have closed, but keep an eye out for their next projects.
Greig Sargeant of Baldwin and Buckley at Cambridge
Greig Sargeant has been a longtime member of Elevator Repair Service, the experimental theatre company that specializes in dramatized found works (such as its eight-hour verbatim performance of The Great Gatsby, called Gatz). Sergeant’s play for ERS, Baldwin and Buckley at Cambridge, is much shorter. It’s a tidy 60 minutes, but it’s filled to the brim with provocative ideas and impressive performances. The play recreates a debate between writer James Baldwin and conservative William F. Buckley, Jr. Sargeant plays Baldwin, making the celebrated writer live again on stage at The Public Theater. Baldwin and Buckley at Cambridge ran through October 23.
The cast and creative team of A Raisin in the Sun
Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun is widely considered one of the best plays of the 20th century for its portrayal of racism and housing discrimination in Chicago. Any NYC revival of the show was a must-see event, and the latest one at The Public Theater is no exception. A Raisin in the Sun starred Tony winner Tonya Pinkins and is directed by Tony nominee Robert O’Hara, and marked Hansberry's Public Theater debut.
Kara Young of Cost of Living
Kara Young made her Broadway debut last season in Clyde’s, for which she got a Tony Award nomination. But Young has long been a rising star in the New York theatre scene, where she tends to play young women struggling to grow up. She is a master at playing angst, intensity, and characters with an open heart. Young then appeared on Broadway in Cost of Living, the Pulitzer-winning play by Martyna Majok. She played Jess, a young woman trying to make ends meet by becoming a caretaker for a man with cerebral palsy.
Jeff Augustin of Where the Mountain Meets the Sea
Jeff Augustin is a Haitian American writer whose contemporary portraits of family are both moving (such as The New Englanders) and bracing (such as Little Children Dream of God). Both those plays had acclaimed runs Off Broadway, and his newest play, Where the Mountain Meets the Sea, did the same. This story of Haitian immigrant and his son, and the bond they share over music, ran at New York City Center through December 1, and features original music by the folk band the Bengsons. There wasn't a dry eye in the house.
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