David Mamet’s new play Race, now playing at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre, will now run through August 23. Starring James Spader, David Alan Grier, Richard Thomas, and Kerry Washington, the drama about race relations is set in a law office, where two lawyers and their associate are deciding whether or not to take on a controversial case. Originally scheduled to close in June, Race is now extending its limited engagement further into the summer. The production recouped its investment earlier this month.
A law firm takes on a racially-charged case in this provocative new Broadway play written and directed by playwright David Mamet. James Spader and David Alan Grier play law partners, with Kerry Washington as their young associate and Richard Thomas as the famous client charged with the rape of a black woman.
Race is an engaging play with a very good cast, and Mamet makes a few interesting observations about the subject matter. But the drama ultimately does little more than serve as an overview of the current state of race relations (as per the cynical Mamet), without actually offering much of anything new on the topic.
David Mamet’s new play, which has a provocative four-letter word of a title, starts performances on Broadway tonight at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre. The four-person Race stars James Spader (Boston Legal), David Alan Grier (In Living Color, Broadway’s A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum), Kerry Washington (The Last King of Scotland, Ray), and Richard Thomas (TV’s The Waltons, Broadway’s Democracy) and is directed by Mamet, in his Broadway directorial debut. The play is about a law firm – made up of two black lawyers and one white one – who have the opportunity to defend a white man charged of a crime against a young black woman. The production will have its official Broadway opening at the Barrymore on December 6.
Unlike last October when Katie Holmes had the spotlight all to herself as she made her debut in “All My Sons,” this fall season of Broadway shows features a star-studded lineup with some major movie stars set to take the stage. The convergence of so many celebrities on Broadway in the fall season is merely a coincidence and producers say there was no premeditated push to get more celebrities in Broadway shows.
So far the summer season attendance has been down 8.4 percent compared to last summer’s season. The large amount of star-power is definitely expected to boost ticket sales, which should of course help New York City’s economy. The roster begins with Daniel Craig and Hugh Jackman in “A Steady Rain” coming in September, followed by Jude Law in “Hamlet” starting shortly after. Sienna Miller will debut in “After Miss Julie,” James Spader in “Race,” and Julia Stiles and Bill Pullman will star in “Oleanna.”
Hollywood stars often seek out stints on Broadway in New York City as a means for bolstering their credibility as an actor, even if there is no need to prove themselves. For instance, Julia Roberts made her Broadway debut in “Three Days of Rain” in 2006. Though her performance was panned by critics, the play still sold exceptionally well. While a famous name may not always ensure a shows success, it does create buzz and attract interest in Broadway, which is much needed now.
Casting announcements have been trickling in for David Mamet’s new play, Race, arriving at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre this autumn. Film and TV star James Spader (Boston Legal), Kerry Washington (Ray), and Richard Thomas (John Boy on The Waltons) are all set to be in the play, and today it was announced that actor/comedian David Alan Grier will be joining the cast as well. Best known for his comedic work on the ’90s sketch comedy TV show In Living Color, David Alan Grier has been on Broadway several times before, most recently the Broadway revival of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. He made his Broadway debut back in 1981 playing Jackie Robinson in the play The First. Although Race is hotly anticipated, the subject of the piece has remained hush-hush – though most have guessed that it deals with racial relations. Playwright Mamet (Speed-the-Plow, American Buffalo, Glengarry Glen Ross) will direct this production of his own work, marking the first time he has directed a play on Broadway.