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Cast announced for SMART PEOPLE at Second Stage Theatre





Directed by Tony Award Winner KENNY LEON



Performances begin January 26, 2016

Official opening February 11, 2016

November 2, 2015 -- Second Stage Theatre (Carole Rothman, Artistic Director, Casey Reitz Executive Director) is proud to announce complete casting for its upcoming New York premiere production of SMART PEOPLE, the new play by LYDIA R. DIAMOND (Stick Fly), directed by Tony® Award winner KENNY LEON (A Raisin in the Sun, The Wiz Live!). MAHERSHALA ALI (House of Cards), JOSHUA JACKSON (The Affair), ANNE SON (My Generation), and TESSA THOMPSON (Creed) will co-star in the production.

Performances for SMART PEOPLE will begin on January 26, 2016 at Second Stage Theatre’s Tony Kiser Theatre (305 West 43rd street); opening night is February 11, 2016. Season subscriptions are currently available through or by calling the box office at 212-246-4422.

The quest for love, achievement and identity is universal, but what role does race play in the story of our lives? On the eve of Obama’s first election, four Harvard intellectuals find themselves entangled in a complex web of social and sexual politics in this provocative and funny new play by Lydia R. Diamond.

SMART PEOPLE will feature scenic design by Riccardo Hernandez, costume design by Paul Tazewell, sound design by Nevin Steinberg, lighting design by Jason Lyons, and projection design by Zach Borovay.

Second Stage Theatre’s 2015-2016 Season kicks off with the New York premiere production of INVISIBLE THREAD, a new musical by Matt Gould and Griffin Matthews, in association with American Repertory Theater, directed by Tony® Award winner Diane Paulus. Performances began October 31 at Second Stage Theatre’s Tony Kiser Theatre (305 West 43rd street) and will officially open on December 2. The new musical, DEAR EVAN HANSEN, featuring music by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, book by Steven Levenson, and directed by Tony® nominee Michael Greif, will also have its New York premiere at Second Stage, beginning previews March 25, 2016.

A fourth production remains to be announced.


MAHERSHALA ALI can currently be seen on the award-winning Netflix original series “House of Cards” as lobbyist and former press secretary Remy Danton. This fall, Ali will reprise his role in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2, the fourth and final installment in the critically and commercially acclaimed Hunger Games franchise. On television, Ali was recently cast in Netflix and Marvel Entertainment’s Luke Cage in the role of Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes, alongside Mike Colter, Rosario Dawson, and Alfre Woodard. The series will premiere in 2016. In addition, Ali will next star in Gary Ross’s civil war era drama The Free State of Jones opposite Matthew McConaughey, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, and Keri Russell; the Brad Pitt and Adele Romanski-produced independent feature film, Moonlight, and Focus Feature’s upcoming Kicks. Other film credits include The Place Beyond the Pines, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. On television, Ali has appeared in “The Wronged Man,” “Alphas” and “The 4400.” Stage credits include Blues for an Alabama Sky, The School for Scandal, A Lie of the Mind, A Doll’s House, Monkey in the Middle, The Merchant of Venice, The New Place and Secret Injury Secret Revenge, The Great White Hope, The Long Walk and Jack and Jill. A California native, Ali received a Bachelor of Arts degree in mass communications from St. Mary’s College and a Master’s degree in acting from New York University.

JOSHUA JACKSON currently stars alongside Dominic West, Ruth Wilson, and Maura Tierney in the Golden Globe award-winning television series, “The Affair,” which is currently airing its second season on Showtime. He will soon be seen in the independent film Sky which premiered at this year's Toronto Film Festival. He previously starred on FOX’s hit show “Fringe,” created by J.J. Abrams. Recent feature film roles include starring roles in Lay the Favorite and Inescapable. In 2010, Jackson received the 2010 Best Actor Genie Award for his starring role in the Canadian Independent feature film, One Week. Other film roles include Bobby and Shutter. He appeared onstage in London’s West End opposite Patrick Stewart in David Mamet’s A Life in the Theatre. Well known as “Dawson’s Creek’s” fast-talking, self-deprecating Pacey Witter, Jackson’s many film credits include Michael Bortman’s Crooked Hearts, The Mighty Ducks trilogy, Digger, Andre the Seal, The Skulls, The Safety of Objects, the HBO Films version of Moises Kaufman’s groundbreaking play The Laramie Project, Aurora Borealis, Ocean’s 11, Scream 2, Urban Legend, I Love Your Work, Cursed, Gossip, Apt Pupil, and Cruel Intentions. (Photo courtesy of Justin Stephens, Showtime)

ANNE SON has previously appeared Off-Broadway in Joker’s Wild, The Art of the Stalker, Dark of the Moon, The Trojan Women, The Crucible, and many others. She was a series regular on ABC’s “My Generation” and has appeared on “NCIS: LA,” “ER,” and “The More Things Change.” Anne has also been seen on film in Wake, Extreme Movie, Dead in the Water, and Dear John. She is a graduate of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York and a Lifetime Member of the Actors Studio.

TESSA THOMSON was most recently seen in as civil rights activist Diane Nash in Selma. She made her professional theater debut in the Los Angeles Women's Shakespeare Company's production of The Tempest and later appeared as Juliet in Romeo and Juliet: Antebellum New Orleans, 1836, which earned her an NAACP Theatre Award nomination. Thompson will appear in the upcoming films Creed and War on Everyone. Other film credits include Justin Simien’s independent satirical drama Dear White People, and Tyler Perry’s For Colored Girls. Thompson’s television credits include a role on the 2016 HBO drama “Westworld,” alongside Anthony Hopkins, Ed Harris, Evan Rachel Wood, James Marsden, Thandie Newton and Jeffrey Wright. Thompson previously appeared as series regular Jackie Cook on the second season of the hit CW teen noir drama, “Veronica Mars.” Other notable television credits include “Copper,” “Heroes,” “Cold Case,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Hidden Palms.” She has also appeared as a guest star on “Life,” “Private Practice,” “Detroit 187,” “Rizzoli & Isles,” “Off the Map,” and “666 Park Avenue.”

LYDIA R. DIAMOND’s plays include Stick Fly (premiered at Congo Square Theatre, was on Broadway at The Cort Theatre, and received an Outer Circle Critics Nomination for Best Play [Broadway], as well as an IRNE Award, LA Critics Circle Award, LA Garland, LA Weekly Theatre Award, Black Theatre Alliance Award, Joseph Jefferson Award Nomination, and was a Susan S. Blackburn finalist), Voyeurs de Venus (premiered at Chicago Dramatists and received the Joseph Jefferson Award for Best New Work and a Black Theater Alliance Award), The Bluest Eye (premiered at Steppenwolf Theatre and transferred to Off-Broadway's Vic Theatre, where it received a Black Arts Alliance Image Award and an American Alliance for Theatre and Education Distinguished Play Award), The Gift Horse (premiered at the Goodman Theatre and received Theodore Ward and Kesselring Prizes), and Harriet Jacobs (premiered at Steppenwolf Theatre). Other producing theatres include Arena Stage, Company One, Congo Square, Everyman Theatre Company, Freedom Theatre, Goodman Theatre, Hartford Stage, Huntington, Jubilee Theatre, Kansas City Rep, Long Wharf, Lorraine Hansberry, McCarter Theatre Co., MPAACT, New Vic (Off Broadway), Playmakers Rep, Plowshares Theatre Co., Steppenwolf, TrueColors, and Contemporary American Theatre Festival. Commissions include Arena Stage, Center Stage, Steppenwolf, McCarter, Huntington, Actor's Theatre of Louisville/Victory Gardens, Humana, Boston University, and The Roundabout. Ms. Diamond was an '05/'06 W.E.B. Du Bois Institute non-resident Fellow, an '07 TCG/NEA Playwright in Residence at Steppenwolf, an 06/07 Huntington Playwright Fellow, a 2012/'13 Radcliffe Institute Fellow at Harvard, a '12 Sallie B. Goodman McCarter Fellow, an '12 Sundance Institute Playwright Lab Creative Advisor, is a Playwright Emerita at Chicago Dramatists, has an Honorary Doctorate of Arts from Pine Manor College, and served on faculty at Boston University ('05-'12). Smart People received an IRNE Nomination for Best New Play when it premiered at the Huntington Theatre Company.

KENNY LEON is a Tony Award winning Broadway and film director. His work on the 2014 revival of A Raisin in the Sun starring Denzel Washington won the Tony Award for Best Direction of a Play and Best Revival, and August Wilson’s Fences garnered ten Tony nominations and won three Tony Awards including Best Revival. Other Broadway credits include The Mountaintop starring Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett, Stick Fly produced by Alicia Keys, the 2004 revival of A Raisin in the Sun with Sean P. Diddy Combs, Gem of the Ocean, Radio Golf, and the 2014 premiere of Holler if You Hear Me, a new musical created using the music of Tupac Shakur. Leon's recent film work includes "In My Dreams" for Hallmark Hall of Fame, "The Watsons go to Birmingham" for Walden Media and Hallmark, and the Sony and Lifetime TV adaptation of "Steel Magnolias." Leon is the recipient of numerous awards including the 2010 Julia Hansen Award for Excellence in Directing by the Drama League of New York. Other directorial credits include Alicia Keys World Tour, Toni Morrison's opera, “Margaret Garner”, the world premiere of Flashdance, The Musical, and the complete August Wilson Century Cycle at the Kennedy Center. He has directed in England, and extensively throughout the US, including Chicago's Goodman Theatre, Boston's Huntington Theatre, Baltimore's Center Stage, Los Angeles' Center Theatre Group and New York's Public Theater. Leon is a graduate of Clark Atlanta and is an honorary Ph.D. recipient of Clark Atlanta and Roosevelt Universities. He is currently serving as the Denzel Washington Chair at Fordham University.


Founded in 1979 under the leadership of Artistic Director Carole Rothman, SECOND STAGE THEATRE produces a diverse range of premieres and new interpretations of America’s best contemporary theatre, including Peter and Jerry by Edward Albee; The Good Times Are Killing Me by Lynda Barry; The Little Dog Laughed by Douglas Carter Beane; The Last Five Years by Jason Robert Brown; The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Diety by Kristoffer Diaz; Sex with Strangers by Laura Eason; The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee by William Finn and Rachel Sheinkin; A Soldier’s Play by Charles Fuller; Becky Shaw by Gina Gionfriddo; Between Riverside and Crazy by Stephen Adly Guirgis; Coastal Disturbances by Tina Howe; Water by the Spoonful and The Happiest Song Plays Last by Quiara Alegria Hudes; Ricky Jay and His 52 Assistants by Ricky Jay; Next to Normal by Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey; This Is Our Youth by Kenneth Lonergan; Some Men by Terrence McNally; By the Way, Meet Vera Stark by Lynn Nottage; eurydice by Sarah Ruhl; Everyday Rapture by Dick Scanlan and Sherie Rene Scott; Let Me Down Easy by Anna Deavere Smith; Saturday Night by Stephen Sondheim; Crowns by Regina Taylor; Uncommon Women and Others by Wendy Wasserstein; Trust by Paul Weitz; Spoils of War by Michael Weller; Jar the Floor by Cheryl L. West; Jitney by August Wilson; Serenading Louie by Lanford Wilson; and Metamorphoses by Mary Zimmerman.

The company has produced three Pulitzer Prize winning plays – Between Riverside and Crazy (2015), Water by the Spoonful (2012), and Next to Normal (2010) – and its productions have received over 130 awards, including the 2009 Tony Awards for Best Score, Best Orchestrations, and Best Actress in a Musical (Alice Ripley) for Next to Normal, the 2007 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play (Julie White, The Little Dog Laughed), 2005 Tony Awards for Best Book of a Musical (Rachel Sheinkin, ...Spelling Bee) and Best Featured Actor in a Musical (Dan Fogler, ...Spelling Bee), 2002 Tony Award for Best Director of a Play (Mary Zimmerman for Metamorphoses), the 2002 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Body of Work, 27 Obie Awards, six Outer Critics Circle Awards, two Clarence Derwent Awards, 12 Drama Desk Awards, nine Theatre World Awards, 14 Lucille Lortel Awards, two NY Drama Critics Circle Awards and 15 AUDELCO Awards.

In 1999, Second Stage Theatre opened The Tony Kiser Theatre, its state-of-the-art, 296-seat theatre, designed by renowned Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas. In 2002, Second Stage launched “Second Stage Theatre Uptown” series to showcase the work of up and coming artists at the McGinn/Cazale Theatre. The Theatre supports artists through several programs that include residencies, fellowships and commissions, and engages students and community members through education and outreach programs.


In 2015 Second Stage Theatre purchased the historic Helen Hayes Theatre, located at 240 W. 44th Street. With this new home, Second Stage will be the only theatre company on Broadway dedicated exclusively to the development and presentation of contemporary American theatrical productions. The company will continue to lease and operate their original theatres on the city’s Upper West Side and in Midtown Manhattan. Second Stage Theatre has enlisted David Rockwell and The Rockwell Group to make renovations and updates to the 103 year old landmark building. They will begin renovations on the theatre in 2016 and plans for its first Broadway production to be staged in the Hayes during the 2017-18 season.

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