Black History Month Dreamcast: An All-Black Revival of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Last updated February 21st, 2020 by Josh Ferri
Black History Month Dreamcast: An All-Black Revival of Who'…

Photo by ABC/HBO/Emilio Madrid-Kuser

In November 1967, producer David Merrick opened an all-black production of Jerry Herman’s Hello, Dolly! starring Pearl Bailey as Dolly and Cab Calloway as Horace. The musical received rave reviews and Pearl Bailey was awarded a special Tony Award for her performance as Dolly—they even released a cast recording with the new company.

This Black History Month, BroadwayBox shines a spotlight on the incredible talent of African American performers working on Broadway today by reimagining revivals in the tradition of Pearl Bailey’s Dolly (and the recent hit West End production of Death of a Salesman). In most big revivals on Broadway today, maybe one principal character is played by a black actor, but these dream revivals feature casts of black Tony Award winners, nominees, and breakout stars. So far, we've imagined dream revivals of dream Follies and Gypsy, and now we turn from musicals to plays and imagine a starry, all-black production of Edward Albee's masterpiece Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (directed, of course, by Tony winner Kenny Leon).

Martha: Viola Davis

Two-time Tony Award, Oscar, and Emmy winner Viola Davis as Martha. Could you even imagine? She hasn’t been on Broadway since her Tony-winning turn in Fences back in 2010, so this would be event theatre. However, if Ms. Davis passes, we’d also love a Regina King Martha or an Angela Bassett Martha.

George: Jeffrey Wright

A Tony Award, Emmy Award, and Golden Globe winner for his performance in Angels in America and a bonefide TV star thanks to HBO’s Westworld, Jeffrey hasn’t been on Broadway in a decade and this would be the kind of marquee project to get him back on stage. Nearly every George on Broadway (save Ben Gazzara in 1976) has won a Tony Award for the role, so chances are Jeffrey would too.

Honey: Condola Rashad

If you could get four-time Tony Award nominee Condola Rashad, you get Condola Rashad. An actress of her skill could bring layers we’ve never even seen to poor, sweet Honey.

Nick: André Holland

André Holland is best known for his screen roles in the Oscar-winning film Moonlight, the movie Selma, Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story, Showtime’s The Knick, and Hulu’s Castle Rock, but this is a true theater performer as well. He starred in the Tony-winning revival of Jitney, he did Shakespeare in the Park, Matthew Lopez’s The Whipping Man, and Hamlet with Mark Rylance. He’s got the smile and the good looks you need in a Nick, and the legit stage cred to pull off the difficult role.