Tony Award-nominated Director Kenny Leon artistically crafts yet another ode to African-American culture with his latest Broadway production Stick Fly. Written by Lydia R. Diamond, the play takes a look at the LeVay family – an upper class family with a web of hidden deception. The father Joe LeVay, played by award-winning actor/producer Ruben Santiago-Hudson, is an accomplished surgeon whose infidelities and adulterous ways are about to catch up with him.
The beauty of playwright Lydia R. Diamond’s script is that The LeVay family could be any privileged household and the cast organically melds into that calling. Dule Hill, who stars in USA Network’s hit show “Psyche”, portrays Spoon Kent LeVay the idealistic, wholesome younger brother forced to come of age without the consent and approval of his father. Harlem-born Mekhi Phifer, who makes his Broadway début as a “Flip” Herald LeVay plays the older self-centered alpha male. Though Flip faintly wrestles with his inherited privileged disposition, he seems to come to grips with being “his father’s son” and attributes his father’s misogynistic traits as his right of passage.
The absence of matriarch Mrs. LeVay, who traces her “vineyard” roots back over two generations, leaves an evocative glitch. However, her aristocratic eminence haunts the entire cast and is displayed throughout the colonial home and accented through her collection of African-American art which includes original paintings by such artists as Romare Bearden and Jean-Michel Basquiat.
Actress Condola Rashad, who plays Cheryl the daughter of the LeVay family maid, fills in the gap with all the humor and charm a scorned woman can muster. Rashad’s one liners and passive/aggressive taunting cries to be accepted and respected, puts a glaring spotlight on first-time visitor Taylor, played by Tracie Thoms who scatter brained dialogue and thwarting charm, leaves much to desire. Things really heat up when Flip brings home his latest steady Kimber played by Gretchen Hall, a liberal-minded white woman, comfortable in her own skin to hold her own.
Produced and scored by Harlemite Alicia Keyes, the play is thoroughly entertaining and humorously provocative. Keyes musical scene transitions at times are extensive, yet melodically pleasurable. The stellar cast of actors cunningly unravels hidden secrets, resolving age-old conflicts while leaving deep, emotional mysteries to fester. Then again, the LeVay’s are merely a mirror image of any typical American family!
Have you seen it, what do you think?
Photo credit: Actor/Producer Ruben Santiago-Hudson and Actress Tracie Thoms in the play Stick Fly.