The lights dimmed at precisely 8 p.m. on Wednesday, May 24, at the illustrious Ahmanson Theatre in Downtown LA, marking the opening night of Charles Fuller’s “A Soldier’s Play,” directed by Kenny Leon. The production was as electrifying as the anticipation coursing through the full house.
“A Soldier’s Play” from the Roundabout Theatre Company hits hard and heavy with raw emotions, taking the audience back to a Louisiana Army base in 1944. The murder of a Black sergeant unfurls a tangled web of interrogations, questions about identity, sacrifice, and service in America, rattling the audience’s collective conscience.
The real magic of the evening was the raw, powerful performance by Broadway’s Norm Lewis. He embodied his character with an unwavering conviction, leading a powerhouse cast that elevated each other’s performances in a masterful show of synergy.
Tony Award-winning director Kenny Leon breathed new life into Fuller’s play with an edge-of-the-seat narrative. The audience was riveted, each scene more intense than the last, the drama delivered with fervor and relentless energy. The production is described by Variety as a “knock-your-socks-off-drama,” and it delivered in every sense.
Notable arrivals included the likes of Sterling K. Brown, Dulé Hill, William Stanford Davis, Tessa Auberjonois, and a host of others. Their presence undoubtedly added a sparkling layer of allure to an already glamorous evening.
The play’s heart lies in its commentary on the black experience during wartime America, a topic that resonates even today. Its themes of racism and injustice echo with painful familiarity, and yet, the production never shies away from confronting these issues head-on, forcing the audience to contemplate the weighty questions posed.
The venue, Center Theatre Group’s Ahmanson Theatre, known for its grandeur and history, provided the perfect backdrop for the dramatic tour de force. The echoes of the past and the palpable energy of the present fused together under the theatre’s roof, creating an ambiance that was both intimate and majestic.
“A Soldier’s Play” runs until June 25, 2023, at the Ahmanson Theatre. Tickets are available in person at the Center Theatre Group Box Office, by phone, or online. This experience is not one to miss – it’s a thought-provoking, potent piece of theatre that asks tough questions and forces the audience to reckon with the often uncomfortable answers.
In all, the night was a triumphant success, serving up a slice of American history with unparalleled candor and intense performances. It’s a testament to the transformative power of theatre and a poignant reminder of the injustices that have shaped – and continue to shape – America.
Report by Lela Christine