The Huntington is presenting a new production of The Bluest Eye based on the American classic novel by Toni Morrison. Written by Lydia R. Diamond (Stick Fly on Broadway and The Huntington, Smart People at The Huntington), the play reimagines Morrison’s haunting and powerful first book for the stage. The production begins January 28 and has been extended to March 13, 2022 at The Huntington’s Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA, with digital access to the filmed performance available through March 27, 2022.
Directed by Awoye Timpo (In Old Age at New York Theatre Workshop, Good Grief at the Vineyard Theatre), The Bluest Eye tells the story of Pecola, a young Black girl who believes everything in her world would be made wonderful if only she had blue eyes.
Inspired by the storytelling circles of Black rituals, audiences will be seated in a circle surrounding the actors, and the experience will create a space for provocation, remembrance, and healing. The Wimberly Theatre stage will extend into the house beyond the traditional proscenium, and part of the audience will be seated on all sides (a seating map can be found here.)
“Coming together in a circle to tell a story is essential to our humanity. That’s what we’re inviting the community into with The Bluest Eye,” said Timpo.
Published in 1970, The Bluest Eye was Morrison’s first novel, and it quickly charted a new path in American literature by placing young Black girls at its center. Set in the author’s birthplace of Lorain, Ohio in the 1940s, Morrison said she first wrote the story because it was something she wanted to read. She would later go on to become the first African American woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, writing 11 novels as well as children’s books. Prior to Morrison’s death in 2019, she gave her blessing to playwright Lydia R. Diamond, who was commissioned by Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago to adapt The Bluest Eye in 2005.
“I was overwhelmed with gratitude and have never wanted so desperately to get something right,” explained Diamond. “Ms. Morrison said to a generation, and then another generation of Black girls, that they matter, that they deserve to be seen, and loved, and protected, and celebrated. We are all the better for her.”
The cast of The Bluest Eye features, in alphabetical order:
Ramona Lisa Alexander (Mama; she/her) Huntington: Milk Like Sugar and Breath, Boom. Regional: Postcards from Earth (Guthrie, X11), Seven Guitars (Artists Rep, Portland, OR), The Royale (Merrimack Rep/Capital Rep, Albany, NY), To Kill a Mockingbird (Montana Rep, national tour), A Christmas Carol (Berkshire Theatre Group).
Brittany-Laurelle (Claudia; she/her) is an actress, storyteller and poet from Harlem, NY. She is thrilled to be making her Huntington debut. She was most recently seen in Staying Home: A 2020 Retrospective (Dance Now), The Legend of Georgia McBride (Seven Angels Theatre). Theatrical training: LaGuardia High School for Performing Arts, Adelphi University. Instagram: @whoisbrittanylaurelle
Hadar Busia-Singleton (Pecola; she/her) Film: Tears of the Sun directed by Antoine Fuqua, and The Good Egg.
Brian D. Coats (Soaphead Church; he/him) Huntington: Invisible Man (2013). Broadway: Jitney (MTC/ US tour), On the Levee (Lincoln Center Theater/LCT3), La Ruta (Working Theater, Pan Asian Rep, Ensemble Studio Theatre), The Bacchae, The First Noel (Classical Theatre of Harlem).
McKenzie Frye (Mrs. Breedlove; she/her) Off Broadway: Syncing Ink (Alley Theatre/The Flea), Wig Out! (Vineyard Theatre), River Deep (Peter Jay Sharp Theatre). Regional: Damn Yankees (St. Louis Black Rep), Dreamgirls (Arkansas Rep), and Harriet’s Return starring Debbie Allen (Kennedy Center).
Lindsley Howard (Maureen; she/her) Select NY: The Antelope Party (The Lark, Dutch Kills), Trojan Women (The Flea). Regional: The Wolves (Studio Theater, Helen Hayes Nominee Outstanding Supporting Actress).
Alexandria King (Darlene/Frieda; she/they) Off Broadway: Pipeline (WAM & The Nora Theatre), A Christmas Carol in Harlem (Classical Theatre of Harlem), Antigone (Classical Theatre of Harlem). Film: “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” (Compelling Pictures), “Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart” (Film Posse), “Red Monster” (Beyond Measure Productions), “Clear History” (HBO).
Greg Alverez Reid (Cholly) is thrilled to make his Huntington debut with The Bluest Eye. Off Broadway: Between the World and Me (Apollo Theatre), The Fabulous Miss Marie (New Federal Theatre/Castillo Theatre). Regional: Detroit ’67 (Signature Theatre), Fences (McCarter Theatre Center/Long Wharf Theatre), All My Sons (People’s Light Theatre), Broke-ology (Theater Alliance), Gem of the Ocean (Hangar Theatre), Locomotion (The Kennedy Center). TV/Film: “Between the World and Me” (HBO/HBO MAX), “The Apollo” (HBO/HBO MAX).
The creative team for The Bluest Eye includes set design by Emmy Award winner Jason Ardizzone-West (“Jesus Christ Superstar – Live” on NBC, “Adele: Live in NYC” on NBC; Blue Man Group: Speechless national tour), costume design by Lortel Award winner Dede Ayite (A Soldier’s Play, Slave Play, and American Son on Broadway) and Rodrigo Muñoz, lighting design by Adam Honoré (Skeleton Crew at The Huntington, Chicken & Biscuits on Broadway, Ain’t No Mo’ at The Public Theater, Carmen Jones at Classic Stage Company), sound design by Aubrey Dube, composition by Grammy Award winner Justin Ellington (recording artists Usher, Nicki Minaj, Andre 3000; Other Desert Cities on Broadway, Pass Over at Lincoln Center Theater), hair, wig, and makeup design by J. Jared Janas, music direction by David Freeman Coleman, choreography by Kurt Douglas and intimacy coordination by Ayshia Mackie-Stephenson The production stage manager is Emily F. McMullen and the stage manager is Lucas Bryce Dixon.
Learn more at huntingtontheatre.org.
Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer, an Award winning filmmaker and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. Her short film, When the World Was Young, written and directed by Garth Kravits, recently garnered a 2021 DisOrient Film Audience Choice Award for Best Short Narrative. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman. She stars in and served as Executive Producer for the short independent films Hide and Seek, Balancing Act, Rom-Com Gone Wrong, Belongingness and When the World was Young. She is also the Executive Producer for The Cactus, The Language Lesson, The Writer and Cream and 2 Shugahs. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers, musicians and corporations.
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