The Alliance Theatre Presents Pearl Cleage’s Blues for an Alabama Sky


The Alliance Theatre is pleased to announce its upcoming production of Blues for an Alabama Sky, celebrating the 20th anniversary of the production’s world premiere at the Alliance in 1995.  Written by beloved Atlanta author and playwright, Pearl Cleage (What I Learned in Paris, The Nacirema Society…) and directed by Alliance Theatre Jennings Hertz Artistic Director Susan V. Booth, Blues for an Alabama Sky is a timeless look at hopeful dreams in the hopeless days of the waning Harlem Renaissance.  Opening night is Wednesday, April 22, 2015.

Blues for an Alabama Sky takes place in 1930 Harlem.  The harsh realities of the Great Depression have devastated the bright decade of the Harlem Renaissance. Disease and poverty have overshadowed the creative euphoria that fueled a surge of African-American artists, writers, and luminaries. Blues is a story with a rich cast of characters, scrambling to survive and make sense of their overlapping personalities, politics, and love. A classic by Atlanta’s own Pearl Cleage, as timely today as when it was conceived.

Blues for an Alabama Sky was commissioned by former Alliance Theatre Artistic Director Kenny Leon, who directed the world premiere on the Hertz Stage.  The original production featured a talented cast including Phylicia Rashad (The Cosby Show) and Bill Nunn (Spider-Man film trilogy).  The show enjoyed a great premiere and was remounted on the Alliance Stage in 1996 as part of Atlanta’s Olympic Arts Festival.

“When Susan Booth told me she wanted to direct a 20th anniversary production of Blues for an Alabama Sky my first reaction was surprise at how quickly twenty years passes,” said playwright Pearl Cleage.  “When the play premiered in 1995, my wish was simply for a successful first production.  I’m happy to say that in the 20 years since Blues was commissioned not a single year has passed when the play was not produced on multiple stages across the country.  My own involvement ended after that first production so having a chance to rediscover this play in collaboration with Susan, who is directing it for the very first time, offers us a unique opportunity to create something that is absolutely new. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate!”

The cast of Blues for an Alabama Sky features Crystal Fox as Angel.  Fox last appeared at the Alliance as Evie Madison in the world premiere of Cleage’s play What I Learned in Paris.  Her television and film credits include Tyler Perry’s The Haves and the Have Nots (Hanna Young), In the Heat of the Night (Luann Corbin), and the film Driving Miss Daisy (Katie Bell).  Fox was hand selected by Phylicia Rashad to understudy the role of Angel during the 1996 production and will now play the role for the first time.  The cast also features Thomas Neal Antwon Ghant (Native Guard, A Christmas Carol) as Leland, Tyrone Mitchell Henderson (Angels in America) reprising the role of Guy, which he played opposite Phylicia Rashad in the 1996 production, Tinashe Kajese (Sticky Fly) as Delia, and Keith Randolph Smith (The Whipping Man, God of Carnage) as Sam.

Additional members of the Blues for an Alabama Sky creative team include Sound Designer Clay Benning, Set Designer Riccardo Hernendez, Costume Designer Lex Liang, and Lighting Designer Robert Wierzel.

“If you’re very lucky, twenty years later, you’ll still be working and learning and growing as a theatre artist,” Cleage continued.  “And maybe another theatre artist you greatly admire will invite you to take a fresh look at what was then and what is now and see if you can create something together that is absolutely new. If you have any sense, you know there is only one answer to such a wonderful question: When do we start rehearsals?

Performances for Blues for an Alabama Sky are Tuesday through Thursday at 7:30 pm, Fridays at 8:00 pm, Saturdays at 2:30 pm and 8:00 pm, and Sundays at 2:30 pm and 7:30 pm, April 15 – May 10, 2015.  There will be no 2:30 pm performance on April 18.  There will be no 7:30 pm performance on May 10.

Opening Night is Wednesday, April 22, at 7:30 pm.

Tickets start at $25 and are available at the Woodruff Arts Center Box Office in person or by calling 404.733.5000.  Tickets are also available online at  Discounted rates for groups of 10 or more are available by calling 404.733.4690.  Discounted rates are also available for members of the military, seniors, and students.  The Alliance Theatre is located at the Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree Street, NE, Atlanta, GA 30309, at the corner of Peachtree and 15th Street.

Blues for an Alabama Sky is part of the Coca-Cola Series on the Alliance Stage.  Blues for an Alabama Sky is also supported by The Home Depot Foundation.