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Phylicia Rashad sets Broadway directing debut with ‘Blue’

Phylicia Rashad sets Broadway directing debut with ‘Blue’
Phylicia Rashad, photographed at the Mark Taper Forum in 2015, is headed to Broadway to direct a new staging of "Blue." (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

When Phylicia Rashad returns to Broadway, she will do so as a director.

The Tony-winning actress is set to direct the Broadway premiere of “Blue,” producers announced Monday. The new staging of the Charles Randolph-Wright play, with music by Nona Hendryx, will run in spring 2020.

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Rashad will be making her Broadway debut as a director with this production. She starred in the show’s world-premiere run in 2000 in Washington, D.C., plus subsequent runs off-Broadway at Roundabout Theatre Company and the Pasadena Playhouse in the years that followed.

“I am happy to be directing this play that brought me so much joy,” she said in a statement. “It affirms the importance of theater and its power to touch the human heart.”

The veteran actress of stage and screen heads to Broadway after collecting directing credits nationwide. She helmed praised productions of four August Wilson classics: “Gem of the Ocean” at Seattle Repertory Theatre, “Ma Rainey's Black Bottom” and “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone” at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles, and “Fences” at both the Long Wharf Theatre in Connecticut and McCarter Theatre in New Jersey. She has also directed productions at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre and New York’s Signature Theatre.

“My sensitivities for the work were well informed from the work I had done as an actor previously,” Rashad told The Times about directing in 2015. “Directing was an adventure — a new adventure. It is an investment in the entire production. I can truthfully say it's like second nature."

“Blue” centers on the Clarks, a socially prominent black Southern family struggling with the legacy and pitfalls of their own good fortune. Rashad originated the role of Peggy Clark, the family’s fierce matriarch.

Rashad’s staging of “Blue” is the fourth female-directed play announced for the 2019-2020 Broadway season. It joins Arin Arbus’ revival of “Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune” with Audra McDonald and Michael Shannon, Carrie Cracknell’s “Sea Wall/A Life” with Tom Sturridge and Jake Gyllenhaal, and Amy Morton’s all-female production of “Glengarry Glen Ross.”

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