Broadway Black was on the scene Saturday night at LIU’s Billie Holiday Theatre for the premiere of Richard Wesley’s political drama, Autumn.
As the country gears up for an intense presidential election, issues like race, gender, class and age creep into the national conversation. Autumn explores the conflicts that arise when aspirations collide across generational, racial and gender divides marking sharply different political agendas against the needs of the people.
Helping to bring Autumn to life is a “director’s dream” cast of stage, TV and film heavy weights including Jerome Preston Bates as the fast-talking, ego-driven mayor, Pauletta Pearson Washington (yes, Denzel’s Pauletta) as his fed up wife, Count Stovall playing the begrudged confidante, Dorian Crossmond Missick as the moral-stricken protege and standout newcomer Lekethia Dalcoe as a struggling mother battling a corrupt and hypocritical system.
“I had no idea who was attached to the show,” shared actor and playwright Dalcoe. “But I’m also a writer, and I’ve been saying ‘I only want to choose work that feeds me not only as an actor, but as a writer as well.’ Autumn has given me that and more.”
After the performance, guests were invited to a private reception where we spotted Denzel and Pauletta’s son and “Ballers” actor John Washington, Raisin in the Sun Tony nominee LaTanya Richardson Jackson and Missick’s wife, more recently known for her role as Misty Knight, Simone Cook.
While Director Walter Dallas was on hand to discuss the benefits of having a living playwright on hand to “take the guess-work out of it,” writer Wesley attributed much of the outcome to the phenomenal cast.
“Its been very helpful to me because I’ve gotten other aspects of the play. You hear the play one way when you’re writing it, but then when you see it in performance and actors have taken it on and they bring their own experiences and individual ideas to the script and suddenly because of that you start seeing things you haven’t seen before.”
Autumn runs at the Kumble Theater at LIU in residence for The Billie Holiday Theatre through Sunday, November 6. For tickets, visit KumbleTheater.org.