Fresh from filming the Ryan Murphy-produced The Boys in the Band for Netflix, Michael Benjamin Washington has been cast in a coveted role in the first major production of Anna Deavere Smith’s acclaimed, one-actor documentary play Fires in the Mirror since its New York premiere 25 years ago.
The original production featured the playwright-actress in her star-making performance.
Off Broadway’s Signature Theatre announced the casting today, along with the director: Saheem Ali, who recently directed the Lincoln Center Theater production of Chris Urch’s The Rolling Stone.
Washington recently completed filming the Joe Mantello-directed The Boys in the Band Netflix screen adaptation, reprising his 2018 Broadway performance as Bernard.
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Other Broadway credits include La Cage Aux Folles and Mamma Mia!, with TV credits including Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Glee.
As previously announced, Fires in the Mirror runs October 22 to November 24, with a November 11 opening night at The Pershing Square Signature Center as part of the company’s Deavere Smith residency season. The landmark play chronicles the true story of what in the summer of 1991 was known as the Crown Heights Riot, as long-simmering racial tensions between Jewish and black communities in the Brooklyn neighborhood erupted following the car accident death of a young black boy and the murder of an Orthodox Jewish scholar.
Deavere Smith interviewed – and then played onstage – more than 50 members of the communities.
The casting of the new production for the role so closely identified with the playwright has been closely watched by the theater community.
“The play’s themes and insights remain unsettlingly resonant today, and we’re excited to welcome director Saheem Ali and actor Michael Benjamin Washington as they re-examine Anna’s seminal text,” said Signature’s Artistic Director Paige Evans in a statement.
The creative team for Fires in the Mirror includes Arnulfo Maldonado (Scenic Design), Dede M. Ayite (Costume Design), Alan C. Edwards (Lighting Design), Mikaal Sulaiman (Sound Design), Hannah Wasileski (Projection Design), and Dawn-Elin Fraser (Dialect Coach).
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