Stage and screen star Sanaa Lathan
(A Raisin in the Sun, Contagion) returns to the title role in Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage
's By the Way, Meet Vera Stark for its West Coast premiere at the Geffen Playhouse
. Lathan, who originated the character of Vera Stark in the critically acclaimed New York run, once again takes the stage as the 1930's era maid turned movie star, reunited with original cast member Kimberly Hébert Gregory (Spike Lee
's Red Hook Summer) reprising her role as fellow aspiring African American actress Lottie.
Broadway vet and Geffen alum Merle Dandridge
(Spamalot, Rent, Aida) will take on the spicy role of Anna Mae, who fakes a Brazilian accent for a slice of fame, and former leading lady of ABC's Man Up, Amanda Detmer
, will portray Gloria Mitchell
, the white starlet dubbed "America's little sweetie pie" and Vera's first employer. Helmed by award-winning director Jo Bonney
, the West Coast premiere cast also features Kevin Carroll
(Paid in Full, Being John Malkovich
), Spencer Garrett
(Iron Man 3, Air Force One) and Geffen alum Mather Zickel
(Extraordinary Chambers, Rachel Getting Married).
It's Hollywood's heyday and the streets of Los Angeles are filled with glitz, glamour and the chance at stardom - that is as long as you have the "right" look. But when former maid Vera Stark lands a groundbreaking role in a new Southern epic, she turns Hollywood on its head and paves the way for future generations of black actresses. More than five decades later, Vera's influence on race, film and feminism has seeped its way into pop-culture. But who is the real Vera Stark? Part comedy and part commentary, By the Way, Meet Vera Stark uses today's fascination with celebrity and controversy to get to the truth behind the legend.
By the Way, Meet Vera Stark had its world premiere in 2011 at Second Stage Theatre in New York. The Geffen Playhouse production marks the West Coast premiere.
The Geffen Playhouse has been a hub of the Los Angeles theater scene since opening its doors in 1995. Noted for its intimacy and celebrated for its world-renowned mix of classic and contemporary plays, provocative new works and second productions, the Geffen Playhouse continues to present a body of work that has garnered national recognition. Named in honor of entertainment mogul and philanthropist David Geffen, who made the initial donation to the theater, The company was founded by Gilbert Cates, and is currently helmed by Artistic Director Randall Arney, Managing Director Ken Novice and Chairman of the Board Frank Mancuso. Proudly associated with UCLA, the Geffen Playhouse welcomes an audience of more than 130,000 each year, and maintains an extensive education and outreach program, designed to engage young people and the community at large in the arts. For more information, visit geffenplayhouse.com.
Photo Credit: Jordan Strauss/Geffen Playhouse
Taylor Hackford and Lesley Ann Warren
Angela Bassett and cast member Kevin Carroll
Richard Chamberlain and cast member Merle Dandridge
Cast member Kimberly Hebert Gregory
Cast member Kimberly Hebert Gregory, Geffen Artistic Director Randall Arney and cast members Spencer Garrett, Sanaa Lathan, Amanda Detmer, Mather Zickel, Merle Dandridge and Kevin Carroll
Kimberly Hebert Gregory, Geffen Artistic Director Randall Arney, Spencer Garrett, Sanaa Lathan, Amanda Detmer, director Jo Bonney, Mather Zickel, Merle Dandridge and Kevin Carroll