Behind The Scenes – “By The Way, Meet Vera Stark” (Sanaa Lathan/Lynn Nottage Hollywood Screwball Play)
This will probably be as close as most of you will ever get to seeing Sanaa Lathan in Pulitzer Prize-winning Lynn Nottage’s new play By the Way, Meet Vera Stark. No, I’m not rubbing it in, just stating the obvious.
In the play, currently previewing New York’s Second Stage Theater, Sanaa plays the titular Vera Stark, described as “a black maid in Hollywood who pursues her dream of making it in the pictures while also grappling with racial stereotypes through decades of the 20th century,” and will focus primarily on the relationship between Stark and her boss, a white Hollywood star, played by Stephanie J. Block (whose Broadway resume includes the musical Wicked).
The official synopsis: “A seventy-year journey into the life of Vera Stark, a headstrong African-American maid and budding actress, and her tangled relationship with her boss, a white Hollywood star desperately grasping to hold onto her career. When both land roles in the same Southern epic, the story behind the cameras leaves Vera with a controversial legacy scholars will debate for years to come.”
Its remaining cast includes Tony Award winner Karen Olivo (West Side Story), Tony Award nominee Daniel Breaker (for Passing Strange), Kimberly Hebert Gregory, and Kevin Isola.
Directed by Jo Bonney (The Break of Noon, Fat Pig), the show officially opens on May 9 at Second Stage Theater, off-Broadway, NYC.
Tickets are on sale as follows: Adults $75; Senior $67.50; Youth Advance $30; Student RUSH $18.
I’m sure I’ll be seeing this some time after it opens, and, of course, I’ll share my thoughts afterward.
By the way, just as Nottage’s Ruined is going to receive the film treatment, don’t be surprised if By the Way, Meet Vera Stark also eventually meets a similar fate.
In the below behind-the-scenes look at the play, the cast and crew shoot a film sequence which, from what I understand, is shown at some point in the play. As Nottage notes, it’s a mixed-media production.
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