Your Blues Ain't Sweet Like Mine
April 11, 2015 - May 3, 2015
Written and Directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson
Joan and Robert Rechnitz Theater
“Sweet Blues could become a widely produced, major American play” – Talkin' Broadway
“Highly entertaining & scrupulously directed” – Scene on Stage
“A timely and important production that everyone should see -- now.” – Broadwayworld.com
“A wild ride & thought-provoking experience”– Theater Cues
An Upper West Side dinner party invitation brings an unlikely group together, spawning a passionate and explosive debate on America’s relationship to race. Tony Award-winner Ruben Santiago-Hudson brings humor and poignancy to one of the most potent conversations in American life. In our shared history, we all sing the blues. But are your blues sweet like mine?
Cast: Brandon J. Dirden, Andrew Hovelson, Merritt Janson, Roslyn Ruff & Charles Weldon.
The creative team for Your Blues Ain’t Sweet Like Mine includes scenic designer Michael Carnahan, costume designer Karen Perry, lighting designer Driscoll Otto, and sound designer Robert Kaplowitz. The production will feature original music by Bill Sims Jr. The fight director is Thomas Schall, the casting is by Heidi Griffiths and the production stage manager is Laura Wilson.
- Ruben Santiago-Hudson directed Two River’s critically acclaimed productions of August Wilson’s Jitney and Two Trains Running.
- As a playwright, Ruben won an Obie Award for his solo show Lackawanna Blues and numerous awards for his HBO screenplay.
- He is currently co-starring on Public Morals, produced by Steven Spielberg, which will air on TNT in 2015.
Approximate Running Time: 90 minutes
Before Play: A video interview with Ruben Santiago-Hudson will be screened in the lobby at 15-minute intervals beginning 45 minutes prior to every performance of Your Blues Ain't Sweet Like Mine.
Post-Play Discussions: will follow every performance of Your Blues Ain't Sweet Like Mine.
Lobby Display: Your Blues Ain’t Sweet Like Mine is a play steeped in history, and during the play’s rehearsals its actors and creative team were surrounded by an ever-growing collage of background information, contemporary news stories, pieces of art and poetry that inform the action and mood of the play. We’ve re-created that collage on the walls of our lobby to illustrate how the elements of a new play reach far beyond the rehearsal room.
Brandon J. Dirden
Brandon J. Dirden (Zeke) previously appeared at Two River in Topdog/Underdog and August Wilson’s Jitney. On Broadway, Brandon starred as Martin Luther King, Jr., opposite Bryan Cranston’s Lyndon Johnson in the Tony Award-winning All the Way. He has also appeared in the Broadway productions of Clybourne Park, Enron and Prelude to a Kiss. Off-Broadway credits include: The Piano Lesson (Obie, Theatre World, and AUDELCO awards, Drama League and Lortel nominations; directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson), The First Breeze of Summer and Day of Absence (Signature Theatre); Detroit ’67 (Public Theater and Classical Theatre of Harlem); Peter and the Starcatcher (NYTW); Bottom of the World (Atlantic); Edgewise (The Play Company/Page 73). Proud volunteer, 52nd Street Project. Regional: Trouble in Mind (Arena Stage); Magnolia (Goodman); Fences (Huntington Theatre and South Coast Rep); Topdog/Underdog (PlayMakers Rep); Ceremonies in Dark Old Men (True Colors Theatre); Othello, Twelfth Night, Metamorphoses, Comedy of Errors, and others (Georgia Shakespeare Festival); A Death in the House..., A Christmas Carol, and The Breach (Alliance); Take Me Out (Theatre in the Square); Come On in My Kitchen (7 Stages); Miss Dessa (Ensemble Theatre); Joe Turner’s Come and Gone (Alley); Harvey (Utah Shakespeare Festival); and Julius Caesar and As You Like It (North Carolina Shakespeare Festival). Training: BA, Morehouse College and MFA, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Proud member of Actors’ Equity Association. You can also see Brandon as Agent Aderholt in the hit FX series The Americans. www.brandondirden.com. Twitter: @brandondirden.
Andrew Hovelson (Randall) Broadway: Lucky Guy (w/ Tom Hanks), An Enemy of the People (MTC). Off-Broadway: Theridamas in Tamburlaine the Great (TFANA), Golden Age (MTC), As You Like It (NYSF). World Premieres: a cautionary tale by Christopher Oscar Pena, KMT adapted by Keith Reddin (dir. Mark Wing-Davey). Regional: Chautauqua Theater Company, American Players Theatre, Odyssey Theatre LA, Antaeus Theater Company. Film: Threshold, Inaudible, The Rapture of 1863, and the upcoming Stranger in the Dunes.TV: Unforgettable, The Good Wife, ER. Training: M.F.A. NYU Graduate Acting, B.F.A. University of MN/Guthrie Theater Actor Training Program. Thank you God, April, Maverick, and family!
Merritt Janson (Judith) Off-Broadway: Tamburlaine the Great (Theatre for a New Audience, dir. Michael Boyd), The Last Will (Abingdon Theatre, dir. Austin Pendleton), Jonathan Franzen’s House for Sale (Transport Group, dir. Daniel Fish), Notes from Underground (Theatre for a New Audience, dir. Robert Woodruff). Regional: Yale Repertory Theatre, American Repertory Theater, La Jolla Playhouse, Shakespeare & Company, Commonwealth Shakespeare Company, Denver Center Theatre Company, Wilma Theater, Theatre de la Jeune Lune, and Vineyard Playhouse. Film/TV: Otto and Anna and Mail Order Wife. Training: MFA, American Repertory Theater at Harvard University.
Roslyn Ruff (Janeece) has previously appeared at Two River in August Wilson’s Two Trains Running and Jitney. She was most recently seen in Scenes from a Marriage at NYTW. Broadway: All The Way, Fences (standby). Off-Broadway: The Piano Lesson and Seven Guitars (Signature Theatre); Macbeth (TFANA); The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter and Things of Dry Hours (NYTW); The Cherry Orchard and Macbeth (Classical Theatre of Harlem); Pudd’nhead Wilson and The Taming of the Shrew (The Acting Company). Regional work includes: Geffen Playhouse, Berkeley Rep, Long Wharf, The Kennedy Center, Indiana Rep, Geva Theatre, The Old Globe, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Alliance Theatre, McCarter Theatre, A.C.T., Yale Rep, People’s Light & Theatre Co. International: BBC Radio; 2004 Bonn Biennale Festival and Shakespeare Festival of Neuss; 2003 Athens Festival. Film: Detachment, The Help, Salt, Life During Wartime, Rachel Getting Married. TV: Doubt, Elementary, Odyssey, Codes of Conduct, Masters of Sex, A Gifted Man, The Big C, The Good Wife. Awards/Nominations: 2012 Lucille Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Play, 2012 and 2010 Drama League nominations for Distinguished Performance, 2007 Obie Award for Performance, 2003 Barrymore Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Play. MFA: IATT at Harvard University.
Charles Weldon (Zebedee) is the Artistic Director of The Negro Ensemble Company, Inc. (NEC) and a veteran director and actor of stage, film, and television. Directing credits include: the NEC productions of Futurology the Musical, Cabaret, and The Picture Box. He directed Colored People’s Time for the New York Public Schools, The Offering at Rip Rap Studio Theater in Los Angeles, Waiting to End Hell, at the Shadow Theatre in Denver. His career began as the lead singer with the group The Pardons in 1961, writing and recording the number one smash hit, Diamonds and Pearls. He performed in the original San Francisco cast of Hair. Charles came to New York with the Broadway musical Big Time Buck White with Mohammed Ali, and in 1970 he joined the legendary Negro Ensemble Company as an actor. He was seen in NEC’s The Great MacDaddy, The Offering, The Brownsville Raid, A Soldier’s Play, and NEC’s Broadway production of The River Niger. Other productions include: Second Stage Theatre’s award-winning play Birdie Blue with S. Epatha Merkerson; Thunder Knocking at the Door at The Guthrie Theater; Fences and King Lear at the Asolo Theatre; It Ain’t Nothing But the Blues at The Kennedy Center; Piano Lesson, at Center Stage; Touch the Names: Letters to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial (original cast recording); Much Ado About Nothing, Taming of the Shrew, and Driving Miss Daisy at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival; The Madwoman, A Selfish Sacrifice, A Streetcar Named Desire, King Hedley II, Jitney, Coming of the Hurricane and Two Trains Running at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. Film credits include: Stir Crazy, Serpico, A Woman Called Moses, The River Niger and, more recently, Malcolm X and Showtime’s The Wishing Tree with Alfre Woodard and Blair Underwood. Television credits include: Roots: The Next Generation, and appearances on Law & Order: Trial by Jury, Police Story, New York Undercover and Law & Order. He has won several awards including: the “HENRY” (Excellence in Regional Theater) for Best Supporting Actor in Gem of the Ocean by August Wilson, and Best Supporting Actor by Audelco for his role in Seven Guitars at Signature Theatre. In addition to his role as Artistic Director, Charles is proud to be the co-founder of The Negro Ensemble Company, Inc. Alumni Organization.
Playwright and Director
Ruben Santiago-Hudson (Playwright and Director) returns to Two River, where he directed August Wilson’s Jitney and Two Trains Running. His other recent directing credits include Quiara Alegria Hudes’ The Happiest Song Plays Last for Second Stage; and Athol Fugard’s My Children! My Africa! and Wilson’s The Piano Lesson, both for Signature Theatre. He won an Obie Award and critical acclaim for his solo show Lackawanna Blues, and his screenplay for the HBO adaptation received the Humanitas Prize, Christopher Award, National Board of Review Honors, and NAACP Image Award; and Emmy, Golden Globe, and Writers Guild of America nominations. He made his directorial debut with Gem of the Ocean (McCarter Theatre and American Conservatory Theater). His directing credits include Things of Dry Hours (New York Theatre Workshop), Radio Golf (Kennedy Center), Seven Guitars and The First Breeze of Summer (both for Signature Theatre Company, where he was an Associate Artist 2008-2009). Santiago-Hudson made his Broadway acting debut in Jelly’s Last Jam. His performance in Seven Guitars earned him the Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play. His most recent theater performances include August Wilson’s How I Learned What I Learned (Signature Theatre), Stick Fly (Broadway), A Winter’s Tale (NYSF), and Gem of the Ocean (Broadway). His upcoming television credits include Public Morals (TNT). He was seen on TV in the ABC show Castle as Captain Roy Montgomery for three seasons and most recently on the AMC Drama Low Winter Sun; his other TV credits include: The Good Wife, Person of Interest, Forgotten Genius, The West Wing, Law & Order The Red Sneakers, Solomon and Sheba, Rear Window. His film credits include Selma, Their Eyes Were Watching God, American Gangster, Shaft, Devil’s Advocate, and Domestic Disturbance, among many others. He has been honored with numerous awards, including two Obies, Lucille Lortel, Outer Critics Circle, Dramalogue, Joe A. Calloway Directing Award, Clarence Derwent, and Helen Hayes Awards, the Distinguished Alumni Award from Wayne State University, AUDELCO Awards, a Black Filmmaker’s Award, and an HBO Arts Festival Theater Award. He is the recipient of an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Buffalo State College. The Ruben Santiago-Hudson Fine Arts Center in Lackawanna, New York was recently named in his honor.
Michael Carnahan (Scenic Designer) previously designed Third, On Borrowed Time, and August Wilson’s Two Trains Running at Two River. First Nat’l Tour: A Christmas Story: The Musical. Off-Broadway: The Happiest Song Plays Last (Second Stage); The Piano Lesson, The First Breeze of Summer (both Signature Theatre); The Marvelous Wonderettes; Three Mo’ Tenors; Pygmalion; Howie the Rookie; Brando. Regional: Arena Stage, American Conservatory Theater, McCarter Theatre, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Pasadena Playhouse, Cleveland Play House, Laguna Playhouse, Utah Shakespearean Festival, Northlight Theatre, Signature Theatre (Arlington, VA), Bucks County Playhouse, Guild Hall (East Hampton), Ogunquit Playhouse, Arsht Center, Musical Theatre West, San Jose Repertory. Broadway (Associate Scenic Designer): The River; ANN: The Ann Richards Play; Cyrano de Bergerac; Peter and The Starcatcher; The Importance of Being Earnest; Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson; All About Me; White Christmas; Curtains.
Karen Perry (Costume Designer) previously designed Guadalupe in the Guest Room, Third, Trouble in Mind, and August Wilson’s Jitney and Two Trains Running at Two River. Recent credits include The Happiest Song Plays Last (Second Stage); Clybourne Park, A Raisin in the Sun (Dallas Theater Center); stop. reset. and The Piano Lesson (Signature); Joe Turner’s Come and Gone (dir. Phylicia Rashad, Mark Taper); the 10th Anniversary production of Crowns, written and dir. by Regina Taylor (Goodman); Pearl Cleage’s Blues for an Alabama Sky, dir. Sheldon Epps (Pasadena Playhouse); John Grisham’s A Time to Kill, dir. Ethan McSweeny (Arena); Regina Taylor’s Trinity River Plays, dir. McSweeny (Dallas Theater Center, Goodman); The Trip to Bountiful, Walter Mosley’s The Fall of Heaven, dir. Marion McClinton (Cincinnati Playhouse); The Brother/Sister Plays by Tarell McCraney, dir. Tina Landau (The Public) and Landau and Robert O’Hara (McCarter); Things of Dry Hours by Naomi Wallace (NYTW); Having Our Say, written and dir. by Emily Mann (McCarter); and Resurrection by Daniel Beaty (Arena). She has designed eight of the 10 August Wilson plays including: Gem of the Ocean, The Piano Lesson, King Hedley II, Radio Golf, Two Trains Running, and Seven Guitars. Honors include: three NAACP Image Awards (Joe Turner, Blues for Alabama Sky, Rosa Parks Story), six AUDELCO Awards, Chicago’s Ira Aldridge Award 2012, Ovation TV Theatre Award 2013, the 2007 San Diego Theatre Critics Circle Award, the 2006 “Woodie” Award, and the 2005 National Black Theatre Festival’s Lifetime Achievement Award; as well as Henry Hewes and Lortel nominations. Select film/TV credits include: Gregory Hines Show, Saturday Night Live, and The Brother from Another Planet by director John Sayles.
Driscoll Otto (Lighting & Projection Designer) made his Metropolitan Opera debut with La Donna del Lago this spring. Off-Broadway Driscoll recently designed Under My Skin. Other venues in NYC include Ars Nova, The Mint, The Ohio, La MaMa, Lincoln Center Jazz, and Gotham Chamber Opera. Driscoll’s work is seen frequently in regional opera and theatre. Recently he designed The Colored Museum at Huntington Theatre Company, Next to Normal at Baltimore’s Center Stage, and The Barber of Seville at Philadelphia Opera. Other companies include NC Opera, Virginia Opera, Dallas Theater Center, Dallas Opera, Houston Shakespeare Festival, Trinity Repertory Company, Hangar Theatre, Flat Rock Playhouse, Utah Festival Opera and productions of Legally Blonde and Rock of Ages for Norwegian Cruise Lines. MFA, NYU Tisch School of the Arts. His portfolio can be viewed at http://www.LoneStarNYC.com
Robert Kaplowitz (Sound Designer) has been lucky enough to spend the last 22 years designing sound and composing music, and has been honored with an OBIE for Sustained Excellence in Sound Design and a Tony for Fela!. For Mr. Santiago-Hudson, he designed August Wilson’s Two Trains Running here at Two River in ’13; as well as Athol Fugard’s My Children! My Africa! at the Signature Theatre. He lives in Philadelphia, where he’s created work with PlayPenn, Arden, Interact, Wilma, PTC, Lantern, Pig Iron, Elastic, Azuka, and Lucidity Suitcase. In other cities, his work has been heard at The Public, MCC, both Signatures, NYTW, Lincoln Center, The National Theatre of England, The Guthrie, MTC, Playwrights, and basically every 99-seat theater in NYC. His love of his art is exceeded only by his love of his family.
Bill Sims, Jr.
Bill Sims Jr. (Composer) is an internationally respected “Master of the Blues.” With the Heritage Blues Orchestra, he was a 2012 Grammy nominee for “And Still I Rise” in the category of Best Blues Album. His recent theater credits include August Wilson’s Two Trains Running and Jitney at Two River and The Piano Lesson at Signature Theatre. Off-Broadway: Lackawanna Blues (Public Theater, Obie Award for Music, 2001), Seven Guitars, The First Breeze of Summer (both Signature), Things of Dry Hours (NYTW). Other theater: Deep Down (INTAR), Gem of the Ocean (McCarter), Crowns (Intiman), Trick the Devil (Freedom Theatre), Moms and Her Ladies (The Producers Club), Polk County (Berkeley Rep). Mr. Sims was the subject of the documentary An American Love Story (PBS) for which he composed many of the songs for the soundtrack. Other film credits: Lackawanna Blues, New York Stories, Miss Ruby’s House, American Gangster, Cadillac Records. His voice can be heard in many TV and radio commercials. His critically acclaimed 1999 CD release Bill Sims (Warner Bros.) demonstrates his knowledge of the many facets of the Blues. Training: Ohio State University.www.heritagebluesorchestra.com
Thomas Schall (Fight Director) has served as fight director on over 50 Broadway shows, among them The King and I, Constellations, This Is Our Youth, Romeo and Juliet, Of Mice and Men, Lucky Guy, War Horse, Death of a Salesman, Venus in Fur, Merchant of Venice, The Seafarer, A View from the Bridge, and Wicked. He has also worked extensively at The Public Theater (Hamlet, King Lear, Titus Andronicus, Mother Courage, Father Comes Home From the Wars, ToasT), Lincoln Center Theater (A Free Man of Color, Disgraced, Blood and Gifts, Dessa Rose), MTC (Ruined, Murder Ballad), and the Met Opera (Nozze di Figaro).
Heidi Griffiths (Casting) has worked for more than 20 years at the Joseph Papp Public Theater in NYC, where she has cast over 200 productions Off-Broadway and at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park, including Shakespeare, new plays, and musicals. On Broadway: A Delicate Balance; A Raisin in the Sun; Lucky Guy; Chinglish; The Motherf**ker with the Hat; The Merchant of Venice; Hair; Passing Strange; Caroline, or Change; Take Me Out (Tony Award, Best Play 2003); Topdog/Underdog (Pulitzer Prize, 2002); The Wild Party; Bring in ’Da Noise, Bring in ’Da Funk; On the Town; and The Tempest. She also cast the films The Incredibly True Adventures of Two Girls in Love, MURDER and murder, and Saving Face.
Kate Murray (Casting) Selected casting credits include: Two River Theater: The School for Wives. Broadway: A Delicate Balance (Casting Associate), A Raisin in the Sun (Casting Associate), Lucky Guy (Casting Assistant). Off-Broadway: To the Bone (Cherry Lane Theater). Kate has been the Casting Director for the Cherry Lane Mentor Project since 2013, and for the BAFTA/Rocliffe New Writing Forum since 2011. Film: Across the Sea, My First Kiss and the People Involved (upcoming). Kate is the Casting Associate at The Public Theater/New York Shakespeare Festival.
Production Stage Manager
Laura Wilson (Production Stage Manager) Two River Theater: Third, No Place to Go. Broadway: All the Way, First Date, A Free Man of Color, The People in the Picture. Off-Broadway: The Really Big Once, A Family of Perhaps Three (Target Margin Theater). Tour: Soul Doctor. Regional: Bull Durham (Alliance Theater); Period of Adjustment (dir. David Auburn), Moonchildren (dir. Karen Allen), A Thousand Clowns (Berkshire Theater Festival); Guys and Dolls (Riverside Theatre); The Three Sisters, The Boys From Syracuse, and Naomi Wallace's Things of Dry Hours (Centerstage, Baltimore); Lydia R. Diamond’s Stick Fly, Lee Blessing’s Lonesome Hollow, Neil LaBute's Wrecks (Contemporary American Theater Festival); Tom Stoppard’s On the Razzle (Clarence Brown Theater); All In The Timing, Mac Wellman’s School For Devils (The Hangar Theatre).
Playbill and other Research Materials
Playlist of artists featured in YOUR BLUES AINT SWEET LIKE MINE: