Two River Theater in Red Bank, NJ, is swapping out “Ooo-Bla-Dee,” written by Regina Taylor and the last play of the season (June 9-July 1), for “Songbird,” written by Michael Kimmel with music and lyrics by Lauren Pritchards, so that Ruben Santiago-Hudson can make his directorial debut at Shakespeare in the Park with “Othello” in Manhattan.
Well that certainly beats “My dog ate my script” excuse. And congrats Mr. RSH. Hope to snag one of those free tickets this summer.
Hard to beat that one. After all, Santiago-Hudson was nominated in 2017 for a Tony for Best Direction of a Play for “Jitney,” which also featured Two River Theater regular Brandon J. Dirden.
His Broadway credits also include acting in Stick Fly as Joe Levay (with Dulé Hill , a Jersey Boy who graduated Sayreville War Memorial High School),” as Canewell with Viola Davis in “Seven Guitars” and as Caesar with Phylicia Rashad in “Gem of the Ocean” and as Buddy Bolden with Gregory Hines and Savion Glover in “Jelly’s Last Jam.”
Kimmel is known for “The Last Goodbye.” Music and lyrics are by Lauren Pritchard, known “Spring Awakening.” It’s being directed by Gaye Taylor Upchurch (“The Last Match, Animal). “Songbird” will be presented by special arrangement with Allison Bressi and Diana Buckhantz.
“Ooo-Bla-Dee” moves to the 25th anniversary season in 2018/19.
“Songbird”has a score that blends folk, bluegrass, and pop-country, and moves Russian playwright Anton Chekhov’s “The Seagull” into a bar in Nashville, where some country music dreams are realized, while others languish on the shelf right next to the whiskey.
“Songbird’ premiered Off-Broadway at 59E59 in the fall of 2015.
Additional details about Two River’s production, including the full cast and creative team, will be announced soon.
Tickets now are on sale at the box office at 21 Bridge Ave., Red Bank, at www.tworivertheater.org or call 732-345-1400 for more information.
ABOUT SHAKESPEARE IN THE PARK
Free Shakespeare in the Park will feature the great tragedy OTHELLO (May 29-June 24), directed by Tony Award winner Ruben Santiago-Hudson; and a reimagined staging of the critically-acclaimed Public Works musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s TWELFTH NIGHT (July 17-August 19), conceived by Kwame Kwei-Armah and Shaina Taub, with music and lyrics by Taub, and directed by Oskar Eustis and Kwame Kwei-Armah.
“The Public has not presented Othello in the Park since 1991,” Eustis continued. “In a moment in America where issues of race, racism, and violence are engaging us all, the time is right to explore Shakespeare’s great tragedy in America’s most public theater in the middle of Central Park. We are also proud to present the Delacorte directorial debut of Santiago-Hudson, long one of the most beloved members of our family as actor and playwright, whose career as a director has soared in the past few seasons.”
Tony winner Santiago-Hudson returns to Free Shakespeare in the Park to direct a sumptuous new production of OTHELLO. Set amid war and palace intrigue in the 17th-century Mediterranean, this classic drama about a noble Black Venetian general whose marriage is sabotaged by theater’s most infamous villain, Iago, remains Shakespeare’s most urgent and relevant tragedy today. A lush, romantic vision gives way to the violent tangle of love and jealousy, race and revenge in this must-see production of Shakespeare’s great tragedy, OTHELLO.
OTHELLO was first staged at the Delacorte in 1964, directed by Gladys Vaughan and featuring James Earl Jones in the title role. It was later staged in 1979, directed by Wilford Leach, and featuring Raúl Julia as the titular character, Richard Dreyfuss as Iago, and Frances Conroy as Desdemona. The most recent production in 1991 was directed by Joe Dowling and featured Raúl Julia reprising his role as Othello and Christopher Walken as Iago.
Oh, I so remember the good ol’ days when these folks were on stage in Manhattan. Wait. Did I just say old. No, I didn’t. Good.