Forest Whitaker in Harlem before his Broadway début by Photojournalist Lisa Pacino
Broadway’s Hughie “Theater Talks” with Academy Award winner Forest Whitaker at the Langston Hughes auditorium at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture- New York Public Library (NYLP), Harlem, New York, February 22, 2016.
A Broadway revival of Pulitzer Prize winner Eugene O’Neill’s Hughie starring Academy Award winner Forest Whitaker making his Broadway début has begun preview performances at the Booth Theatre on February 8th; its opening night is set for February 25th. The one-act, two-character drama, about a hustler named “Erie Smith” who confides in a hotel clerk, will feature the Tony Award winner Frank Wood (Side Man and Clybourne Park). The director will be Michael Grandage, the former artistic director of the Donmar Warehouse in London, who won a 2010 Tony Award for his direction of Red. This is a limited-run production, which will mark Mr. Whitaker’s Broadway début. He won the Academy Award playing “Idi Amin” in The Last King of Scotland.
Play History: Hughie is a one-act, two-character play by Pultizer Prize winner Eugene O’Neill set in the lobby of a small hotel on a West Side street in midtown New York during the summer of 1928. The play is essentially a long monologue delivered by a small time hustler named Erie Smith to the hotel’s new night clerk Charlie Hughes, lamenting how Smith’s luck has gone bad since the death of Hughie, Hughes’ predecessor. O’Neill wrote Hughie in 1942, although it did not receive its world premiere until 1958, when it was staged in Sweden at the Royal Dramatic Theatre. It was first staged in English at the Theater Royal in 1963 with Burgess Meredith as Erie. The play was first presented on Broadway in 1964 starring Jason Robards as Erie and directed by José Quintero. Robards received a Tony Award nomination for his performance, and revived the production in 1975 in Berkeley, California. Thereafter he returned to perform it at the Hyde Park Festival Theatre in 1981, the Trinity Repertory Theatre in Rhode Island in 1991, and a televised performance in 1984 for PBS. Hughie has been produced on Broadway twice since the 1964 Robards/Quintero production. In 1975 it was paired in repertory with another short play, Duet, this time with Ben Gazzara as Erie, who also won a Tony Award nomination for the role, and in 1996 by the Circle in the Square theatre in a production directed by and starring Al Pacino. The play was revived in Chicago in 2010 with Brian Dennehy in the title role, and again revived in 2013 in Washington D.C. starring Richard Schiff. It is now the fourth time to Broadway starring Forest Whitaker as Erie Smith in February 2016. The 2016 revival is being directed by Michael Grandage with Darren Bagert as a lead producer. Hughie has been televised at least four times in addition to the 1984 Robards/Dodson version: in 1959 for Swedish television, in 1960 for Norwegian television, in 1963 for Dutch television, and in 1983 for French television.
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