In honor of Black History Month, The Pasadena Playhouse and Crossroads Theatre Company celebrate the historic contributions made by the Tuskegee Airmen as it presents the west coast premiere of Fly. Written by Trey Ellis and Ricardo Khan, Fly tells the story of hope, endurance and accomplishment as it follows the lives of some of the first Black military pilots in a racially segregated United States Armed Forces during World War II.
Opening Jan. 26, the 90-minute play runs through Feb. 21, at The Pasadena Playhouse – the official state theatre of California. Talkback sessions will take place Feb 9. and Feb. 16, featuring a panel of community experts, while Feb. 14 will include members of the cast and crew.
Khan, also the director, is the Tony Award-winning co-founder and former artistic director of Crossroads Theatre Company – a company known as one of the foremost Black theatre companies in the United States.
The cast features: Brooks Brantly; Ross Cowan; Anthony J. Goes; Brandon Nagle; Desmond Newson; Damian Thompson; Terrell Wheeler; and Omar Edwards as Tap Griot. Edwards, the show’s improvographer, uses tap dance “to set a mood that is part sublimated anger, part empowerment.”
Khan shared with Pasadena Now:
This cast for The Pasadena Playhouse/Crossroads production is extraordinary. We took much longer than usual to finally assemble the perfect group, but with Pat McCorkle casting, we did it. And here we are with an exceptionally talented, passionate and committed ensemble of young men ready to take California by storm with a story of unparalleled positivity, pride, courage, achievement.
The creative team includes: Hope Clark (choreographer); Beowulf Boritt (set designer); Toni-Leslie James (costume designer); Rui Rita (lighting designer); John Gromada (sound designer); Clint Allen (video/projection designer).
Throughout the years, the Tuskegee Airmen have been the subject of numerous films, television shows and documentaries, including: 12 O’Clock High Graveyard (1966) with Ossie Davis; The Tuskegee Airmen (1995) with Laurence Fishburne; and Red Tails (2012) by George Lucas. During the presidential inauguration of Barack Obama, more than 180 airmen attended. The 45th National Convention of Tuskegee Airmen Inc., will take place during July, in Indianapolis, Indiana.
The New York Times called Fly “ a superior piece of theatrical synergy.” The production began its rehearsals the last week of December at the The New Victory Theater in New York, where it will have its Off-Broadway premiere in March. The production’s journey extends as far back as 2005, when it was presented as part of Lincoln Center Institute’s educational outreach. Since then it has played at venues such as Flat Rock Playhouse (North Carolina) and Ford’s Theatre (Washington, D.C.). A trailer of the 2012 D.C. show is below.