Two River Theater (Artistic Director John Dias, Managing Director Michael Hurst) presents the world premiere of Your Blues Ain’t Sweet Like Mine, written and directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson. The press opening is Friday, April 17 at 8pm and performances will continue through Sunday, May 3 in Two River’s Rechnitz Theater, 21 Bridge Avenue, Red Bank, NJ. Tickets are available from 732.345.1400 or tworivertheater.org.
Production Photos: Michal Daniel
An Upper West Side dinner party invitation brings an unlikely group together, spawning a passionate and explosive debate on America’s relationship to race. Brandon J. Dirden and Merritt Janson star as Zeke and Judith in Two River’s commissioned world-premiere drama about America’s relationship to race—and the power of hope and possibility in all of our lives. Zeke is a highly educated, once-homeless man who describes himself as a “walking outburst.” Judith, a self-described “seeker of knowledge,” is a writer who decides that his life would make a great feature for The New York Times Magazine. As the story progresses and their worlds collide, Zeke and Judith discover the price of history, sacrifice, and legacy.
Brandon J. Dirden (Zeke) most recently appeared on Broadway as the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. opposite Bryan Cranston’s LBJ in All the Way. His other New York theater credits include Clybourne Park and The Piano Lesson; at Two River Theater, he starred in Jitney and Topdog/Underdog. His television credits include The Americans and The Good Wife.
Merritt Janson (Judith) was most recently seen in Theatre for a New Audience’s production of Tamburlaine the Great and The Last Will with Abingdon Theatre Company. She has appeared in numerous productions with Shakespeare & Company, American Repertory Theatre, and the Moscow Art Theatre.
Also featured in the cast are Andrew Hovelson (Broadway’s Lucky Guy and An Enemy of the People) as Randall, Judith’s boyfriend; Charles Weldon (Broadway’s The River Niger and Big Time Buck White with Mohammed Ali and Stir Crazy opposite Richard Pryor) as Zebedee, a recluse who has chosen to live for the past 40 years in a book-lined room under Grand Central Station; and Roslyn Ruff (Two Trains Running at Two River Theater, Lortel Award winner for The Piano Lesson at Signature Theatre, All the Way on Broadway) as Janeece, Judith’s best friend.
Ruben Santiago-Hudson’s directing credits include August Wilson’s Jitney and Two Trains Running at Two River Theater and The Piano Lesson for Signature Theatre. He won an Obie Award and critical acclaim for his solo show Lackawanna Blues, and his screenplay for the HBO adaptation received the Humanitas Prize and other honors. As an actor, his credits include August Wilson’s Seven Guitars, for which he received the Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play; August Wilson’s How I Learned What I Learned at Signature Theatre; and the feature film Selma.
The creative team for Your Blues Ain’t Sweet Like Mine includes scenic designer Michael Carnahan, costume designer Karen Perry, lighting designer Driscoll Otto, and sound designer Robert Kaplowitz. The production will feature original music by Bill Sims Jr. The fight director is Thomas Schall, the casting is by Heidi Griffiths and the production stage manager is Laura Wilson.
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Two River Theater is supported in part by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a division within the Department of State and a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation, The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, The Shubert Foundation, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, The Stone Foundation of New Jersey, Monmouth University, The Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Durso Wealth Management Group at Morgan Stanley, Investors Bank, Unterberg Children’s Hospital at Monmouth Medical Center, Brookdale Community College, The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey, William T. Morris Foundation, Springpoint Senior Living Foundation at the Atrium at Navesink Harbor, , and many other generous foundations, corporations and individuals.
Two River Theater, under the leadership of Artistic Director John Dias and Managing Director Michael Hurst, creates great American theater performed by award-winning artists. We produce American and world masterpieces, and new plays and musicals. Two River Theater offers new-play commissions and artistic development activities that support the most adventurous artists in the American theater; invites its audience to be part of the creative process through readings and open rehearsals; and cultivates students and young people to participate in innovative arts-education programs and become a new generation of theatergoers. Founded in 1994 by Joan and Dr. Robert M. Rechnitz, Two River Theater is easily accessible by car, train, or bus, with great restaurants and shopping within walking distance of the theater. For more information, visit tworivertheater.org or call 732.345.1400.
Lia Chang is an actor, a performance and fine art botanical photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon and Taxman. She has guest starred on “One Life to Live,” “As the World Turns,” and “New York Undercover.” Lia starred as Carole Barbara in Lorey Hayes’ Power Play at the National Black Theatre Festival in Winston-Salem, N.C., with Pauletta Pearson Washington and Roscoe Orman. She is profiled in Jade Magazine.
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