by Deena Campbell
“Generally Stick Fly is like the other works I’ve done,” says Boston University professor and award-winning playwright Lydia Diamond, whose rÃ©sumÃ© boasts productions such as Voyeurs de Venus and an adaption of Toni Morrison‘s The Bluest Eye. “I write on themes of race, class and sexuality. But this is more accessible,” says the Broadway newbie. “It’s a good, solid chestnut family play that everyone can relate to.”
The play, directed by Kenny Leon— who recently directed Oscar nominees Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett on Broadway in The Mountaintop– tells the story of the LeVays, an affluent family vacationing in Martha’s Vineyard. Tensions flare when the two adult sons introduce their girlfriends to the family, and as class distinctions appear, family secrets are revealed.
Stick Fly stars Emmy Award nominee DulÃ© Hill (Psych, The West Wing); Tracie Thoms (Rent, Cold Case); Tony Award winner Ruben Santiago-Hudson (Lackawanna Blues); and Phylicia Rashad‘s daughter Condola Rashad (Ruined). It also serves as the Great White Way debut for both veteran actor Mekhi Phifer (ER, 8 Mile)– “I feel like the new kid on the block,” he says– and Grammy Award winner Alicia Keys.
“Being in a place that’s new to me is only going to make me grow and learn,” says Keys, who worked with Leon during her 2008 As I Am global tour and serves as both the show’s producer and its composer. “The music reflects the mood of the scenes,” she says. “But it doesn’t take over everything; it’s subtle.”
Besides the chance to work with Keys again, why did the in-demand Leon choose this piece to direct? “I haven’t seen anything quite like it– especially on Broadway,” he laughs. “I can afford to say ‘no.’ But this I had to say ‘yes’ to.”
Stick Fly is now playing at the Cort Theatre in New York City.