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Kenny Leon to Direct Broadway Revival of 'Children of a Lesser God' in 2015-16 Season

By Jon Sobel j.sobel@classicalite.com on Sep 30, 2014 11:10 AM EDT

Children of a Lesser God, Mark Medoff's groundbreaking play about a deaf woman and her complex relationship with her former teacher, will return to Broadway during the 2015-16 season, producer Hal Luftig announced yesterday. Kenny Leon, a busy director of late with the hit revival of A Raisin in the Sun and the high-profile failure Holler If Ya Hear Me, will helm the revival, with cast, theater, and dates yet to be announced.

The original Broadway production of Children of a Lesser God opened in 1980, ran for more than two years, and won the Tony Award for Best Play as well as Tonys for stars Phyllis Frelich and John Rubinstein. A West End production won the Olivier Award for Best New Play in 1981. The 1986 film adaptation starred William Hurt and, in an Oscar-winning performance, Marlee Martin.

Luftig and Leon are considering colorblind casting for the revival. They will also uphold the tradition of casting a deaf actress in the lead role of Sarah; as Luftig said, "Anything else would be insulting to the deaf community." And whoever plays James, the male lead, will have to be or become adept at sign language.

Luftig, a Tony-winning producer of numerous Broadway hits and revivals including Kinky Boots, West Side Story, Legally Blonde and Seussical, talked about what he loves about theater, and about getting new generations to love it too, in a recent Big Think interview:

"I don't really care how technology pushes us forward. There's never going to be anything like sitting in a theater with a hundred or a thousand people around you laughing, crying, doing all those emotional things that hopefully good theater will do for you…one of the greatest joys that I have as a producer--is watching those kids watch a show, many of them for the very first time. And you can tell which ones are hooked."

Whether 21st century audiences will get hooked on a 35-year-old story about a deaf woman remains to be seen. The original Broadway production ran for 887 performances, an impressive stretch for a straight play.

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TagsChildren of a Lesser God, Hal Luftig, broadway, A Raisin in the Sun, Holler If Ya Hear Me, Kenny Leon, Tony Awards

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