|Ian Sander, Mary Alice.|
Charles Gorone’s 1969 Pulitzer Prize drama, the first by a Black author, had played for two healthy runs Off Broadway in its original and a return engagement. There are some fascinating notes on the play’s connection to the Public Theater in Kenneth Turan and Joseph Papp's Free for All. It’s a play I’ve always had a fondness for, having directed a Brooklyn College production of it in 1978, with a promising young actor named Jimmy Smits in the lead. Whatever happened to him?
In 1971, only a relatively short time after the return engagement closed, it was revived on Broadway, directed by Gordone himself. The audience for it appears to have been dissipated, though, during its 578 Off-Broadway performances.
|Terry Alexander, Susan Spaulding.|
The new staging of this racially sensitive drama, set in a West Greenwich Village bar, was completely recast and reconceived, but its placement on a Broadway proscenium stage seemed to Douglas Watt to weaken its potency from that displayed in more intimate surroundings. Yet Clive Barnes felt it belonged right where it was, claiming, “The play is a lot better than it was originally,” its structure and impact being sharper than before. Jerry Tallmer’s opinion coincided with Barnes’s, calling it “a brilliant piece of theatre.”
Phillip Thomas played Gabe Gabriel, Ian Sander was Shanty Mulligan, Terry Alexander was Johnny Williams, Elaine Kerr was Dee Jacobson, Mary Alice played Cora Beasley, and Ed Van Nuys was Judge Bolton.