Kenny Leon directs August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winning drama “Fences” in its first Broadway revival since it debuted in 1987. The new staging opened on April 26 at Cort Theatre, and is one of ten plays in Wilson’s “Pittsburgh Cycle,” illuminating the African-American experience in the 20th century.
Two-time Academy Award winner Denzel Washington brings his box office star power to the stage as Troy Maxson, a sanitation worker with unfulfilled dreams of a career in baseball’s major leagues. Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards winner Viola Davis stars as his wife Rose. Throughout the story, which spans eight years, Rose asks Troy to build fences in the backyard — a metaphor for the fences he has built around his life and his family that both protect and limit them.
In supporting roles are Stephen McKinley Henderson as Troy’s friend Jim Bono; Russell Hornsby as his son by a previous marriage, Lyons; Mykelti Williamson as his brother Gabriel; with Eden Duncan-Smith and SaCha Stewart-Coleman alternating in the role of 10-year-old Raynell.
The 1,079-seat Cort Theatre hosted two weeks of previews beginning April 14, with an attendance capacity between 98 and 99 percent each week. Regular ticket prices range from $61.50 to $136.50, with premium seats priced from $191.50 to $326.50 for select performances. Gross ticket sales have been over the $700,000 mark each week so far, according to numbers from the Broadway League.
“Fences” is a limited 13-week engagement that runs through July 11. Performances are scheduled Tuesday at 7 p.m., and Wednesday through Saturday at 8 p.m. Matinees are scheduled Wednesday and Saturday at 2 p.m., and Sunday at 3 p.m.
The theater will be dark tonight (April 27), due to Monday’s special opening night performance, and July 4, due to the holiday. While the Cort is dark most Mondays, there is an added performance on June 28 at 8 p.m. The production’s curtain time has been moved up to 2 p.m. on Sunday, June 13.
The Cort Theatre is located at 138 West 48th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues. “Fences” runs two hours and 30 minutes, including one 15 minute intermission. Scheduling and ticketing details are available on the production’s official Web site.
Opening Night: “Fences”
|Variety||Marilyn Stasio||“[Washington] never lets us forget the essential decency that motivates the man’s rash decisions and thoughtless cruelty, and he’s heartbreaking when he articulates Troy’s yearning for something softer and sweeter than the rigid life he’s made for himself and forced onto his family.”|
|New York Times||Ben Brantley||“Mr. Washington and Ms. Davis prove that lovers don’t have to be as young and star-crossed as Romeo and Juliet to generate shiver-making heat and pathos.”|
|USA Today||Elysa Gardner||“…this ‘Fences’ makes the characters’ struggles briskly accessible and absorbing, but doesn’t always capture their depth and resonance.”|
|LA Times||Charles McNulty||“Nothing in the play matches Davis’ searing crescendo. If Washington supplies the theatrical brawn, she provides the dramatic heart.”|
|Chicago Tribune||Chris Jones||“…Leon and Washington have hit a collective home run.”|
|Associated Press||Michael Kuchwara||“It’s a big, bold performance in a big, bold play, rife with emotion-drenched soliloquies for its star about life, love, death and the devil.”|