Trouble in Mind by Alice Childress, directed by Charles Randolph-Wright, and starring Tony and Emmy Award winner LaChanze. Follow an experienced Black stage actress through rehearsals of a major Broadway production in Alice Childress’s wry and moving look at racism, identity, and ego in the world of New York theatre.
Trouble in Mind Tickets:
Trouble in Mind is about the troubled production of a fictional, anti-lynching Broadway play, Chaos in Belleville. Written by a white playwright about a community of black sharecroppers in the south. When Wiletta , the African-American lead of the Chaos, arrives early on the first day of rehearsal and stands on stage breathing in the magic of the empty theatre, she simultaneously resembles a world-famous diva and a small, trembling child. During the rehearsals of Chaos Wiletta and the other black actors, must deal with the condescending attitude of their white director, Al Manners. The black actors disagree and question on words and script situations, which Manners tries to smooth over but refuses to concede that things could be objectional. Feelings are further strained as divisions form between the black and white cast members, and as the fictional paly rehearsals reach a dramatic climax the cast fall into infighting. At this point Wiletta stands up to Manners and he reveals his racist attitudes but faces severe consequences as a result.
“Everyone should be reviving Childress’ work. The dramas are powerful body blows full of beautifully observed human detail, hard swings in several genres.” – Vulture
“Alice Childress’ Plays Offer Indispensable Insight into Black Lives.” – MacDowell
Cast and Creative
- LaChanze as Wiletta Mayer
- Michael Zegen as Al Manners
- Chuck Cooper as Sheldon Forrester
- Danielle Campbell as Judy Sears
- Jessica Frances Dukes as Millie Davis
- Brandon Micheal Hall as John Nevis
- Simon Jones as Henry
- Alex Mickiewicz as Eddie Fenton
- Don Stephenson as Bill O’Wray
Trouble in Mind was originally written by Alice Childress, this Roundabout Theatre Company adaptation is directed by Charles Randolph-Wright, with set design by Arnulfo Maldonado, costume design by Emilio Sosa, lights by Kathy A. Perkins, sound by Dan Moses Schreier, hair by Cookie Jordan, and an original musical score by Nona Hendryx.
Actress, singer, and dancer Rhonda LaChanze Sapp, known professionally as, LaChanze, performed a Tony-winning role in “The Color Purple” and standout performances in “Once on This Island” and “Summer: The Donna Summer Musical.” Now she is returning to the Great White Way to star in Roundabout Theatre Company’s “Trouble in Mind.” “Though the play was written and first produced in 1955,” LaChanze says, “its themes of race, identity and belonging make it even more important today.” She also hopes the show will continue a trend of giving marginalized artists a presence on Broadway.
Trouble in Mind originally opened to acclaim off-Broadway in 1955 in Greenwich Mews Theatre, New York City, and ran for 91 performances. Childress was awarded an Obie Award in 1956 for best original Off-Broadway production, making her the first African American woman to win an Obie. The show was supposed to move to Broadway in 1957, being at the forefront of both the Civil Rights and feminist movements of the time, but that never happened. Though Trouble in Mind was award-winning and a hit with critics and audiences at the time, the production was plagued with problems, including a clash between the original director and cast that prompted Childress to take his place, perfectly mimicking the production itself. The original production was a three-act play with a relatively happy ending, while the published version has only two acts and an ambiguous and downbeat close. Both endings, Childress was unsatisfied with, and Broadway producers demanded too many changes that Childress felt would have compromised the play.