Earlier this spring, news reports surfaced that Jussie Smollett had read for the role but been bypassed following his attack-hoax scandal. A source close to the production confirmed to Deadline at the time that Smollett had indeed read for the role in January just before the hoax incident but that no casting decisions had ever been made. At the time, Zachary Quinto had read for a co-starring role.
The Second Stage Theatre production, to be directed by Scott Ellis (Tootsie), will begin previews April 2, 2020, at Second Stage’s Hayes Theater, with an official opening on April 23. No casting beyond Williams was announced today.
Williams, who plays Dr. Jackson Avery on Grey‘s and has appeared in Lee Daniels’ The Butler and The Cabin in the Woods, will play the lead role in Take Me Out: Darren Lemming, a star center fielder for the Yankees-like Empires who comes out of the closet as gay and deals with the consequences of teammate prejudice, damaged friendships and “the challenges of being a gay person of color within the confines of a classic American institution.”
Take Me Out premiered in London in 2002 before an Off Broadway production that year at the Joseph Papp Public Theater. It’s Broadway debut came the following year, with Daniel Sunjata in the lead role, along with Neal Huff, Denis O’Hare and Frederick Weller, among others.
In addition to his role on Grey’s Anatomy, Williams has served as senior producer and correspondent alongside Norman Lear on EPIX docuseries America Divided, and exec produced feature doc Stay Woke: The Black Lives Matter Movement. He gained international attention for his 2016 BET Humanitarian Award acceptance speech.
Greenberg’s play has always drawn considerable speculation about its inspirations. Rumors at the time of an about-to-come-out Derek Jeter were, of course, proven unfounded, though on firmer ground was the widespread belief that the tale’s racist player Shane Mungitt (played in the original by Frederick Weller, now playing a similarly hateful rube in To Kill A Mockingbird) was based on the then-notorious Atlanta Braves pitcher John Rocker.
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