Boston's Huntington Theatre Company opens its 2009-2010 season next month with a production of August Wilson's Fences and I'm really looking forward to it.
I saw my first play by the late Tony and Pulitzer winner in May, the Broadway revival of Joe Turner's Come and Gone, and I loved it. I love how Wilson combines African-American history with a compelling story and characters in a way that never seems forced or preachy.
This week, the Huntington announced the cast for Fences, which begins previews on Sept. 11 and runs through Oct. 11. The play will be directed by Kenny Leon, who's helmed two of Wilson's works on Broadway as well as the recent revival of A Raisin in the Sun.
I'm only familiar with one of the actors - Bill Nunn, whom I've seen in movies. But that's okay, except for Ernie Hudson I didn't know any of the actors in Joe Turner either.
Luckily, I have the Internets to help provide a little background.
The play, which takes place in 1957 in Pittsburgh, tells the story of Troy Maxson, a former Negro League baseball player whose dreams were thwarted by racism. Maxson's frustration with the way his life has turned out impacts his family, especially his son Cory, a budding football star.
Included in the cast are John Beasley as Troy, Crystal Fox as his wife, Rose, Warner Miller as Cory, Bill Nunn as Troy's brother, Gabriel, and Brandon J. Dirden as Lyons, Troy's son by a previous marriage.
Beasley played Troy Maxson in March 2008 at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., which held staged readings of all 10 plays in Wilson's Century Cycle chronicling African-American life in the 20th century.
Here's a review from Elyse Gardner in USA Today. Maxson, she writes, "is one of the greatest tragic heroes written for the stage, and John Beasley is marvelous in the part, by turns hilarious, infuriating and heartbreaking."
Update: More background on the cast, from the Huntington's blog.