The Broadway revival of the Tony Kushner-Jeanine Tesori musical Caroline, or Change and the New York premiere of Noah Haidle’s Birthday Candles starring Debra Messing are the latest productions to announce postponements until 2021, and they’ll be joined on the Roundabout Theatre Company line-up with the Broadway debut of Alice Childress’ 1955 play Trouble in Mind, to directed by Charles Randolph-Wright.
The postponements – plans to open both Caroline, Or Change and Birthday Candles this Spring were scuttled by Broadway’s COVID-19 shutdown – follow this week’s announcements that The Music Man, Flying Over Sunset, American Buffalo and The Minutes are now targeting Spring 2021 premieres. Birthday Candles, with Messing, will open in Fall 2021.
“With the ongoing uncertainty of the pandemic and with concern for our artists, staff, and audiences, we have determined that we will not be able to reopen our theaters this fall,” said Roundabout Artistic Director/CEO Todd Haimes. “While this decision brings tremendous financial challenges – and is genuinely heartbreaking – our artistic team is continuing to build and evolve our work for the future.”
Haimes continued, “I’m pleased to add Alice Childress to the lineup of great writers that Roundabout celebrates and to give this play its overdue Broadway premiere, directed by our Board member and friend Charles Randolph-Wright.”
A founding member of the American Negro Theatre and the first African-American woman to be produced professionally in New York (1952’s Gold Through The Trees), Childress is best known for her 1973 novel A Hero Ain’t Nothin’ But A Sandwich about a 13-year-old black boy addicted to heroin, and its 1978 movie adaptation starring Cicely Tyson, Paul Winfield and Larry B. Scott.
Trouble in Mind will premiere at Roundabout’s American Airlines Theatre in Winter 2021-22. The production will mark director Randolph-Wright’s first project with Roundabout since the staging of his play Blue in 2001.
Childress’ play follows a black stage actress through rehearsals of a major Broadway production, and is described by Roundabout as a “wry and moving look at racism, identity, and ego in the world of New York theatre” that, in 1955, was at “the forefront of both the Civil Rights and feminist movements.” A planned Broadway transfer in 1957 was abandoned when the playwright, who died in 1994, refused producers demands for script changes to, according to Roundabout, make it “more palatable to a commercial audience.”
The Negro Ensemble Company staged an Off Broadway revival of the Trouble in Mind in 1998, and the play has since been produced by Yale Repertory Theatre, Centerstage, Milwaukee Repertory Theatre and Arena Stage.
Randolph-Wright’s Blue is in the works for an eventual revival at New York’s Apollo Theater, with Phylicia Rashad directing and Leslie Uggams and Lynn Whitfield starring. His credits also include directing Broadway’s Motown The Musical.
The Roundabout also confirmed today that its revival of the musical 1776 will open as planned in Spring 2021 at the American Airlines Theatre, directed by Diane Paulus.
Caroline, Or Change starring Sharon D Clarke, reprising her lauded London performance, will open at Roundabout’s Studio 54 in Spring 2021, with Michael Longhurst directing. Birthday Candles with Vivienne Benesch directing Messing will open in Fall 2021 at the American Airlines Theatre.
The Roundabout’s upcoming Off Broadway line-up includes Spring 2021 openings for Jiréh Breon Holder’s …what the end will be at the Laura Pels Theatre in the Harold & Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre, directed by Margot Bordelon, and Dave Harris’ Exception to the Rule, directed by Miranda Haymon, also at the Steinberg Center.
Additional details including dates and casting for all Roundabout productions will be announced in this Fall.