Kevin Spacey will star in Clarence Darrow, a one-man play about the famed “Monkey Trial” lawyer by David. W. Rintels and directed by Thea Sharrock. First presented at the Old Vic Theatre in London, it will now come to New York for a two-night event at Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing, NY, on June 15-16.
Darrow was a legendary civil rights attorney from the first decades of the last century, best known for representing substitute teacher John Scopes, who was accused of violating Tennessee law by teaching the theory of evolution. The “Monkey Trial” case was dramatized in Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee’s play and movie Inherit The Wind, which starred Spencer Tracy as the Darrow figure and Fredric March as the opposing attorney, a character based on fundamentalist and perennial presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan. Darrow also took on such unpopular causes as the Leopold and Loeb murder case and those of various unions fighting for the right to strike.
Spacey first came across the play when he was in high school. The one-man show made its Broadway premiere at the Helen Hayes Theatre in 1974. Spacey brings Darrow to life over the course of 90 minutes, in which Darrow with his legendary wit relives some of his extraordinary experiences and infamous trials that established his reputation as a courtroom giant and civil rights hero.
“Clarence Darrow was one of the most important attorneys in the United States and I just love the idea of Darrow and Arthur Ashe coming together: both masters of two very different courts,” Spacey said in announcing the brief run. “Of course, drama happens all the time on Ashe, but never quite like this. I love a new challenge and this is an exciting opportunity to share Darrow’s remarkable story with a broader and more diverse audience than usually gets a chance to see theatre.”
Spacey recently signed on to host the 71st Annual Tony Awards, which will be telecast live by CBS on June 11.