Part of the deal he struck with HBO last year to produce all ten of August Wilson Century Cycle plays, Oscar and Tony Winner Denzel Washington is bringing Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom –the second installment — to the screen.
Fences was the first of Wilson’s 10-play Century Cycle to make its way to the silver screen — arriving nationwide December 25 — and opened to rave reviews from critics and actors alike. The film adapted version garnered nominations for The Golden Globes, SAG Awards, NAACP Awards, BAFTA Awards, and what critics are saying a soon to be Oscar race contender. And after watching the film for ourselves, it would be a crime to have Viola Davis walk away empty handed February 26th.
The screenplay for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom has already been completed, however casting and a release date has yet to be announced.
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Wilson’s first of the Cycle Series to arrive on Broadway, tells the story of a blues singer and the effect racism has on her life and career through a 1927 recording session in Chicago, inspired by the real-life Gertrude “Ma” Rainey.
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom opened at Broadway’s Cort Theatre in October 1984, playing 276 performances before closing and being nominated for a Tony Award. The production starred Theresa Merritt in the title role, while the remainder of the company featured Charles S. Dutton, Leonard Jackson, Robert Judd, Christopher Loomis, Aleta Mitchell, Joe Senaca, John Carpenter, Lou Criscuolo, and Scott Davenport-Richards. The play was revived in February 2003 starring Whoopi Goldberg and Charles S. Dutton.
Most recently Centre Theatre Group premired the Phlycia Rashad directed Ma Rainey, with Lillias White in the title role. Which got me thinking … can she just do it on screen because, well, it’s LILLIAS WHITE!
Who would you like to see in the title role? Sound off below!