NEW HAVEN – Long Wharf Theatre, under the leadership of Managing Director Joshua Borenstein, presents Paradise Blue by Dominique Morisseau, directed by Awoye Timpo, from November 21 through December 16, 2018.
Tickets start at $30 and can be purchased by calling 203-787-4282 or visiting longwharf.org.
The press opening takes place Wednesday, November 28 at 7:30 pm.
The cast includes Leon Addison Brown (Corn), Freddie Fulton (P-Sam), Margaret Odette (Pumpkin), Carolyn Michelle Smith (Silver), and Stephen Tyrone Williams (Blue). Actor headshots can be found here.
The creative team includes Yu-Hsuan Chen (set design), Lex Liang (costume design), Oona Curley (lighting design), Daniel Kluger (sound design), and Alphonso Horne (composer). Gwen Gilliam is the stage manager.
The Paradise Club was once the hottest Jazz club in town, but Detroit’s Black Bottom neighborhood is gentrifying, and Blue, the club’s owner and lead trumpet player, is tormented by thoughts of leaving it all behind. When Silver, a mysterious woman with a walk that drives men crazy, shows up with her own ideas for Paradise, she turns everyone’s world upside down. Dynamic, sultry, and spiced with humor, Paradise Blue is a new American classic.
“Similarly to what August Wilson did with his American Century Cycle, Dominique dives deeply into Detroit and examines some of the big issues that the city has faced over the past 70 years. Her writing is vibrant and stylized, and she creates characters that are enormously captivating,” said Literary Manager Christine Scarfuto.
Morisseau was named a 2018 MacArthur Fellow and is one of the most produced playwrights in the nation. Paradise Blue is part of Morisseau’s three-work cycle “The Detroit Project.” Inspired by August Wilson’s American Century Cycle and the works of Detroit-raised playwright Pearl Cleage, Morisseau has written with empathy and deep love for the people of her hometown of Detroit, humanizing people who have been dehumanized in the media and in social narratives. Morisseau’s activism and interest in the things that come before her have helped her create complex characters using profoundly poetic language.
“Dominique’s brilliant thing is to take the lives of everyday people and explore how they interact with other people’s lives. What is the common cause that brings people together?” Timpo said.
Detroit ’67 is set against the backdrop of the 1967 riots. Skeleton Crew, set in 2008, and shows the impact of the recession on a group of auto workers. Paradise Blue takes place in1949, during a time when gentrification was about to alter the city’s landscape irreparably.
“I knew I wanted to tell a story about how we lost Paradise Valley, because I’d heard so much about it growing up and wanted to experience it for myself. Theatre allows you to resurrect people, place, and communities,” Morisseau told Breaking Character magazine in a May 2018 interview.
For more information, visit longwharf.org or call 203-787-4282.
CREATIVE TEAM BIOS
DOMINIQUE MORISSEAU (Playwright) is the author of The Detroit Project (A 3-Play Cycle) which includes the following plays: Skeleton Crew (Atlantic Theater Company), Paradise Blue (Signature Theatre), and Detroit ’67 (Public Theater, Classical Theatre of Harlem and NBT). Additional plays include: Pipeline (Lincoln Center Theatre), Sunset Baby (LAByrinth Theatre); Blood at the Root (National Black Theatre) and Follow Me to Nellie’s (Premiere Stages). Dominique is an alumna of The Public Theater Emerging Writer’s Group, Women’s Project Lab, and Lark Playwrights Workshop and has developed work at Sundance Lab, Williamstown Theatre Festival and Eugene O’Neil Playwrights Conference. Her work has been commissioned by Steppenwolf Theater, Women’s Project, South Coast Rep, People’s Light and Theatre, and Oregon Shakespeare Festival/Penumbra Theatre. She most recently served as Co-Producer on the Showtime series “Shameless.” Following its record breaking run at Berkeley Repertory Theatre last summer, her new musical Ain’t Too Proud —The Life and Times of The Temptations, is set to open at The Kennedy Center (Washington DC), The Ahmanson (Los Angeles), and The Princess of Whales Theater (Toronto) this season before going to Broadway Spring 2019. Awards include: Spirit of Detroit Award, PoNY Fellowship, Sky-Cooper Prize, TEER Trailblazer Award, Steinberg Playwright Award, Audelco Awards, NBFT August Wilson Playwriting Award, Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama, OBIE Award (2), and the Ford Foundation Art of Change Fellowship. She was named one of Variety’s Women of Impact for 2017-18 and a recipient of the 2018 MacArthur Genius Grant.
AWOYE TIMPO (Director) The Revolving Cycles Truly and Steadily Roll’d (Playwrights Realm), The Homecoming Queen (Atlantic Theater), Skelton Crew (Chester Theater), Sister Son/Ji (Billie HolidayTheater), Carnaval (National Black Theatre), Ndebele Funeral (59E59, South African tour, Edinburgh Festival); The Libation Bearers (Shakespeare Theatre of NJ), In The Continuum (Juilliard). Producer: Classix, a reading series exploring classic plays by Black playwrights. Broadway: Associate Director, Jitney. Other: Associate Director, Othello (Shakespeare in the Park), ABC/Disney, Cherry Lane, Ma-Yi, New Dramatists, NOW Africa, PEN World Voices, Royal Shakespeare Company, Lincoln Center Directors Lab, Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab, WNYC.
LEON ADDISON BROWN (Corn) Long Wharf Theatre: Our Town and The Bluest Eye. Broadway: Misery, The Trip to Bountiful, On the Waterfront, Someone to Watch Over Me, Prelude to a Kiss. Off-Broadway: Transfers (MCC); Master Harold and the Boys (Drama League Nomination for Distinguished Performance and Audelco Nomination); The Painted Rocks at Revolver Creek, The Train Driver, The Orphans' Home Cycle, The Alexander Plays (Signature Theatre); The Box (Foundry Theatre); The Lights (LCT); As You Like It (TFANA); Sargent Ola... (Soho Rep); The Death of the Last Black Man (BACA Downtown). Selected Regional: Baltimore Center Stage; Berkshire Playwrights Lab, Hartford Stage, Westport Country Playhouse (CCC Award), Theatre Works, People's Light Theatre, Arena Stage, Yale Rep, Berkshire Theatre Festival, Hartford Theatreworks, Indiana Rep, Cleveland Playhouse, Cincinnati Playhouse, Arizona Rep, Missouri Rep, Milwaukee Rep, Portland Center Stage and Williamstown Theatre Festival. Film/TV: Ben is Back, A Walk Among the Tombstones, Whirlygirl, Hamlet, Music of the Heart, True Blood, “Elementary,” “The Breaks,” “Madame Secretary,” “The Knick,” “The Good Wife,” “Law & Order: SUV,” “The Jury.” Shorts: Mandela Was Late, Paper Cranes. Training: North Carolina School of the Arts.
FREDDIE FULTON (P-Sam) is making his Long Wharf Theatre debut with this wonderful production of Paradise Blue. He’s truly grateful to this amazing team and for the opportunity to breathe life into stories, such as this one. Originally from Little Rock, Arkansas, Freddie recently received his MFA in Acting from Columbia University. Other theater credits include: Classic Stage Company’s Julius Caesar (Brutus), Seven Guitars (Floyd), The Seagull (Medvedenko), Fences (Cory), A Soldier’s Play (PFC Peterson), etc. To his family, friends, and supporters (new and old) thank you for your inspiration and love, it means the world to him.
MARGARET ODETTE (Pumpkin) is thrilled to join the Long Wharf Theatre family with this production. NYC: Sensucht (JACK, NYT Critic’s Pick), She Kills Monsters (The Flea / Vampire Cowboys, NYT Critic’s Pick), Figaro (The Pearl), The Electric Lighthouse (The Flea), Asian American MixFest (Atlantic). Regional: Smart People (WAM / Williamstown); The House That Will Not Stand (NYS&F); Jump (Chautauqua); Skeleton Crew, A Raisin in the Sun, Good People, The Bluest Eye. Film: Sleeping with Other People. TV: “Instinct,” “Elementary” (directed by Lucy Liu). Margaret is a co-founder and producer for HomeBase Theatre Collective. BA Brown University (Weston Acting Award recipient); MFA NYU Tisch Grad Acting. www.margaretodette.com
CAROLYN MICHELLE SMITH (Silver) Broadway: Romeo and Juliet directed by David Leveaux starring Orlando Bloom and Condola Rashad. Off-Broadway: Hit The Wall (Barrow Street Theatre), Soldier X (HEREArts Center). Film/TV: “Luke Cage” (Netflix), “Notorious” (ABC), “How to Get Away With Murder” (ABC), “Law & Order: SVU” (NBC), “Colony” (USA), and “House of Cards” (Netflix), “Code Black” (CBS). “The Oath” (Crackle), and Sunny Daze directed by Jason Wiles. Education: Fordham University and Juilliard. Special Thanks to Awoye Timpo for her spectacular vision and artistry, and Erica, James, and Paul at Calleri Casting for their wonderful dedication and support.
STEPHEN TYRONE WILLIAMS (Blue) Broadway: Lucky Guy (Broadhurst) and Jitney (Friedman). Off-Broadway: Harper Regan (Atlantic Theater Company), My Children! My Africa! (Signature Theatre - Drama League award & Clive Barnes nom), Burning (New Group), and Hallway Trilogy (Rattlestick Playwrights Theater). Regional: Gem of the Ocean (Hartford Stage), Fences (Seattle Repertory/Syracuse Stage - SALT nom), Ruined (Intiman/Geffen Playhouse), Topdog/Underdog (Actors Theatre of Louisville), and Measure for Measure (Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey). Select Film: Tobacco Burn, Children of God, Restless City, Greetings from Tim Buckley, and Da Sweet Blood of Jesus. Select TV: “Elementary,” “Person of Interest,” “Unforgettable,” and “The Knick.”