Tony, Emmy, and Grammy winner Cynthia Erivo (The Color Purple) has joined the upcoming Broadway run of Fat Ham which will begin previews in the American Airlines Theatre March 21. The James Ijames' Pulitzer-winning play will open its 14-week engagement April 12.
In a statement to Variety, Erivo shared her excitement to return to Broadway in her first role as producer. “Almost 10 years ago, I was introduced to the Broadway community in a musical that shook my world and changed my life irrevocably." she said. "I have been waiting for the right opportunity to return to the theatre community and am thrilled to be back, this time as a first-time producer with Fat Ham.”
Erivo, also an Oscar nominee, stars in the upcoming Wicked film as Elphaba opposite Ariana Grande as Glinda. The first film in the two-part adaptation of the Broadway musical will screen in cinemas beginning November 27, 2024.
Erivo joins Rashad V. Chambers, No Guarantees and Public Theater Productions as producers, while Andy Jones and Dylan Pager will serve as executive producers. Tony nominee Colman Domingo previously joined as a co-producer for The Public and National Black Theatre co-production, which transfers to the Main Stem after an award-winning engagement at Off-Broadway's Public Theater.
"Every once in a while, we experience a play that is embraced by the audience with an almost shocking joy. When that happens, when the audience greets the production with a hunger that demonstrates the show is exactly what they need and want, the theatre explodes," said a joint statement from Chambers, No Guarantees, Public Theater Productions, and National Black Theatre. "It’s the most exciting experience available to us theatre-makers. Such a play, such a production, is Fat Ham. James explores the deepest of issues with the lightest of touches, looking for a way to break cycles of violence and retribution and to find a hard-won joy. And Saheem has created a production that unleashed the pain and the joy of our age."
Check out Ijames in the Broadway rehearsal room below.
Set at a Southern cookout, Fat Ham follows Juicy, a queer college kid, in Ijames' reinvention of the Shakespeare classic Hamlet. Juicy has to grapple with identity questions, the ghost of his father, a supernatural demand for vengeance, and the choice of breaking or continuing cycles of trauma and violence in this tragicomedy.
Reprising their roles from the Off-Broadway run, as previously announced, are Nikki Crawford as Tedra, Chris Herbie Holland as Tio, Billy Eugene Jones as Rev and Pap, Adrianna Mitchell as Opal, Calvin Leon Smith as Larry, Marcel Spears as Juicy, and Benja Kay Thomas as Rabby; Crawford, Holland, Mitchell, Smith, and Spears all will make their Broadway debuts with the production. Joining the Broadway cast as understudies are RJ Foster, Marquis D. Gibson, Alexandria Lewis, Matthew Elijah Webb, and Rema Webb.
Director Saheem Ali returns to direct the play in his Broadway debut, alongside returning members of the Off-Broadway creative team: scenic designer Maruti Evans, costume designer Dominique Fawn Hill, sound designer Mikaal Sulaiman, choreographer Darrell Grand Moultrie, hair and wig designer Earon Chew Nealey, and illusions designer Skylar Fox. The team also includes lighting designer Bradley King, fight director Lisa Kopitsky and singing coach Deborah Lapidus. General management will be by Baseline Theatrical. Casting is by Kate Murray.
Go inside rehearsals for Fat Ham's Broadway run below.