Photo used with permission from The Metropolitan Playhouse
Great theater can always be found on and off Broadway in New York City. Another great play currently on stage is Walk Hard. WALK HARD is an adaptation of Len Zinberg’s novel “Walk Hard-Talk Loud,” and premiered in 1944 at the American Negro Theater. After its successful run, the play was produced by Gustav Blum at the Chanin Auditorium on 42nd Street in 1946.
The work follows the story of a young man working as a shoeshine boy in 1939, The young man is nineteen-year-old Andy Whitman whose ambition is limited only by the color of his skin. He is bright, industrious, but black, and his daily struggle makes make him quick with his temper and his fists. When he catches the eye of a boxing manager in a street fight, Andy is soon a rising star in a fast-paced game. But it is a game of devil’s bargains, played with dubious partners, and some rules never change when a black man looks for respect in a white world.
Born in Atlanta in 1910, ABRAM HILL
moved to New York as a teenager and studied at City College, earned his BA at Lincoln University, and did graduate work at Columbia. He began his career as an assistant in Lincoln’s drama department in 1938, and in that same year became a consultant to the Federal Theater Project. He continued working in theater until his death in1986.
The production is directed by IMANI, Artistic Director of RACCA (Richard Allen Center for Culture and Art), recipient of an AUDELCO Award in 2010 for direction and a Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation George C. Wolfe Fellow in 2014-14. Recent work includes “Mirrors/Mississippi Goddamn,” “Snow,” and “Eartha and Me.” She is also an instructor in Black American Drama and Documentary Theater at SUNY Purchase.
The production introduces New York actor JOSHUA DAVID SCARLETT as Andy, and stars GABRIELLE ARCHER, BEETHOVAN ODEN, CRAIG ANTHONY BANNISTER, MICHAEL BASILE, CHRIS KRAUSE, KIM YANCEY MOORE (“A Raisin in the Sun,” with Danny Glover at Roundabout), JOY SUDDUTH, VANESSA SHAW (“Eartha and Me,” “Welcome Home, Marian Anderson”). SEAN MICHAEL BUCKLEY, FRANK ANDERSON (NYIT Award winner for “The Return of Peter Grimm”), PETER TEDESCHI (“Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” “The House of Mirth”). Set design is by ALEX ROE. Lighting by MELODY BEAL.
Costumes by NYIT Award winner SIDNEY FORTNER. Sound by BILL TOLES. Stage Manager is WILLIAM VANN CARLTON. Assistant Director is LAVONDA ELAM.
METROPOLITAN PLAYHOUSE, now its 24th season, devoted to Hope, explores America’s theatrical heritage through forgotten plays of the past and new plays of American historical and cultural moment. The show runs from February 19 – March 20. General admission tickets are for $25. For more information, visit the Metropolitan Playhouse website or call: 1-800-838-3006.