Nothing can be more exciting for theater-goers than a play that dares to tackle a subject rarely dealt with on stage, especially on a Broadway stage, and which does so with unpredictable twists and turns. One such subject is the relationship between a Black man and his sons, currently explored in the play Stick Fly at the Cort Theatre on West 138 W. 48th Street in New York City. How refreshing to see portrayed an African-American family that is affluent, with a home in exclusive Martha’s Vineyard that displays nothing but good taste, beginning with its Romare Bearden paintings.
Written by Lydia R. Diamond, who is making her Broadway debut as a playwright, and produced by Grammy Award winner Alicia Keyes, Stick Fly is the story of the LeVay family and its myriad secrets that are revealed during a weekend gathering at their Martha’s Vineyard home. It is a play with multiple layers as it looks at betrayal, commitment in relationships, or the lack thereof. The patriarch of the family, Dr. LeVay, a neurosurgeon, is a strong father-figure in the lives of his two grown sons, Flip and Spoon. The sons have come home, one with his fiancé, the other with his girlfriend. One son is a veritable chip off the old block; the other is overly sensitive, always seeking his father’s approval.
Diamond, a Huntington Playwriting Fellow and Resident playwright at Chicago Dramatists, has created an engagingly emotional, yet funny play in Stick Fly. The play enjoyed previous staging in Chicago at the Congo Square Company and as a co-production of the Arena Stage and Huntington Theatre. The Broadway production offers up a stellar cast that includes, Tony Award winner and Broadway veteran Ruben Santiago-Hudson in the role of Dr. LeVay; Mekhi Phifer in a brilliant Broadway debut as Flip, a plastic surgeon who has a great deal of money but a shallow soul; Dule Hill, wonderful as timid, affectionate Spoon; Tracie Thoms as Taylor, Spoon’s feisty fiancé who is always ready for an argument and who feels that she has to prove herself to everyone she meets; and Condola Rashad who brings so many wonderful levels to her character as a college student who is the maid. Rashad’s character is proud, not in the least bit ashamed that she does hard, physical work for a living. She is smart and does not shy away from confrontation. For a Broadway debut, Rashad is nothing less than phenomenal. Rounding out the cast is Rosie Benton, a spitfire in the role of Flip’s girlfriend. Her character is very outspoken about what Black children are going through in poor neighborhoods, a subject she has researched.
Kenny Leon, the incomparable veteran Broadway director of African-American plays, brings his prowess to Stick Fly. Leon has impressive directing credentials on Broadway, enhanced most recently by Katori Hall’s The Mountaintop, which starred Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett. Prior to that he directed three August Wilson plays: Fences, starring Denzel Washington and Viola Davis; Gem of the Ocean, starring Phylicia Rashad; and Radio Golf. He also directed Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun, which starred Sean Combs, Phylicia Rashad and Audra McDonald.
Make your way to the Cort Theatre and experience a play you won’t soon forget. Diamond’s other works include Stage Black, The Gift House, Voyeurs de Venus and The Bluest Eye.