Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Denise Burse and Richard Prioleau Lead the Cast of A RAISIN IN THE SUN at Seattle Rep, September 30-October 30

Photo by Lia Chang

Photo by Lia Chang

Seattle Repertory Theatre is opening its season with the Timothy McCuen Piggee helmed A Raisin in the Sun, a classic Lorraine Hansberry’s drama starring Award-winning actor Denise Burse and Richard Prioleau as Lena Younger and Walter Lee.  A Raisin in the Sun will run September 30-October 30, 2016 (opening night is October 5, 2016) in the Bagley Wright Theatre. Tickets are on sale now through the Seattle Rep Box Office at (206) 443-2222 and online at

The cast also features Tré Cotten as George Murchison; Andrew Lee Creech as Bobo; Ricardy Charles Fabre as Joseph Asagai; Claudine Mboligikpelani Nako as Beneatha Younger; Jalani Clemmons as Travis Younger; Catalino Manalang as Travis Younger; Charles Leggett as Karl Lindner; Brace Evans as a moving man; and Anthony Simmons as a moving man.

Lorraine Hansberry’s classic, which inspired Seattle Rep’s recent production of Clybourne Park, tells the story of African American Lena Younger who lives with her extended family in a cramped apartment on Chicago’s South Side. On their unknowing behalf, Lena places a down payment on a home in Clybourne Park-an affordable white neighborhood. Racial intolerance attempts to derail the family’s dreams in this 1959 masterpiece, which “changed American theater forever” (The New York Times) and continues to resonate generation after generation.


Denise Burse (Lena Younger)
Denise Burse lives and works in New York. With A Raisin in the Sun, Miss Burse returns toSeattle Repertory Theatre for the fourth time. She was most recently seen in Kimber Lee’s brownsville song (b side for tray) in the Leo K. Theatre. Her first show at the Rep was The Piano Lesson directed by Lloyd Richards. Next was Radio Golf directed by Kenny Leon. Both plays were written by August Wilson. She just finished directing the premiere of Women of Adonai by Alana Barrett Adkins in NYC. Some of Miss Burse’s other credits include: an episode of “Black Mirror,” a Netflix series, new episodes airing in October; the newly released independent film Anesthesia by Tim Blake Nelson; a workshop of Nathan Alan Davis’ The Refuge Plays Trilogy directed by Patricia McGregor; and a workshop of Dominique Morisseau’s Autumn Harvest. You can still catch Miss Burse in the recurring role of Claretha Jenkins on Tyler Perry’s “House of Payne.” Denise is a Theatre World Award winner and an Audelco Award nominee and winner for acting.

Richard Prioleau (Walter Lee)
Prioleau was last seen at TheatreWorks in Confederates (world premiere). His Off-Broadway credits include A Persistent Memory with Beckett Theatre/Theatre Row and as Tom in The Glass Menagerie with Masterworks Theater Company. His regional credits include Actors Theater of Louisville, The Repertory Theater of St. Louis, Intiman Theatre/Williams Project, Clarence Brown Theatre, American Conservatory Theater, and Arkansas Repertory Theatre. NYC credits include Access Theater, The Gallery Players, La MaMa ETC, and The New Ohio Theatre. Film and television credits include “Madam Secretary,” HBO’s “The Normal Heart,”and “30 Rock.” Mr. Prioleau earned his B.A. from Fordham University at Lincoln Center and his MFA from American Conservatory Theater.

Jalani Clemmons (Travis Younger)
This nine-year-old from Little Rock, AR, is extremely thrilled to be joining Seattle Repertory Theatre for the first time in A Raisin in the Sun. Jalani first appeared in his kindergarten production of Where the Wild Things Are and took improv classes at Seattle Children’s Theatre. He then joined Broadway Bound appearing in: Grease (Doody); Cinderella (Prince); and High School Musical (Chad).

Tré Cotten (George Murchison)
A native of North Carolina, Tré is excited to be making his debut with Seattle Repertory Theatre. He will be receiving his MFA in Acting at the University of Washington School of Drama this upcoming year. Some of his previous work includes: Daisy (ACT Theatre); Julius Caesar and Twelfth Night (Virginia Shakespeare Festival); The Color Purple (City Stage Tour); Smokey Joe’s Cafe (Cape Fear Regional Theater); Six Degrees of Separation (Wilmington, NC); A Chorus Line (Opera House Theater Company); Ragtime (Thalian Association); and Five Guys Named Moe (Opera House Theater Company). Film and television credits include “One Tree Hill” for the CW Network, “East Bound and Down” with HBO, and “Frat Brothers” for the BET Network.

Andrew Lee Creech (Bobo)
Andrew is a locally grown writer, performer, and hip-hop artist whose work has been showcased throughout the city. Most recently, Mr. Creech has been seen on the stages of Seattle Shakespeare Company (Romeo and Juliet), ArtsWest (Wonderful Life), and ACT (Mr. Burns, a post-electric play and Buzzer). Film credits include Better Than Love (in post-production). Andrew received his BFA from Cornish College of the Arts and serves as the Regional Ambassador for the Dramatists Guild of America.

Mia Ellis (Ruth Younger)
Regional: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Titania/Hippolyta; Hamlet, Ophelia (Santa Cruz Shakespeare); To Kill a Mockingbird, Calpurnia; Blues for Mister Charlie, Juanita; Melancholy Play: A Chamber Musical, Joan; The Glass Menagerie, Laura; Intimate Apparel, Esther; Grapes of Wrath, Mrs. Wainwright/Ensemble; A Christmas Carol, Christmas Past/Sister-in-Law; Clybourne Park, Francine/Lena (Trinity Rep/Resident Acting Company); The Book Club Play, Lily (Virginia Stage); Good People, Kate (The Sandra-Feinstein Gamm Theatre); Hamlet, Ophelia (Bread Loaf Acting Ensemble); Sharon’s Shorts, Stephanie (Robert Moss Theatre); Broken Homes, Emmy (Under St. Marks). Film: Louder Than Words. TV: “Elementary,” “Person of Interest,” “What Would You Do.” Training: Brown University/Trinity Rep MFA in Acting.

Brace Evans (Moving Man)
Brace Evans graduated from Garfield High School, University of Washington (’91, Business and Drama), Brooklyn College (MFA), and completed training in Freehold’s Meisner Series and ETI program, and participated in the Acting Shakespeare course this past summer 2016 at RADA. He was the Grandfather in Force Continuum at the University of Washington, Newt Lee in Parade for Sound Theatre, and Hud in Hair at Bainbridge Performing Arts. Next up is House of Dinah at On the Boards (OTB) in December. His passion is to inspire individuals to ‘exist’ and ‘BE’ themselves through self-reflection as inspired by seeing oneself in performance. This is his debut performance at Seattle Rep, where he once worked in the front of house.

Ricardy Charles Fabre (Joseph Asagai)
Ricardy Charles Fabre makes his debut at Seattle Repertory Theatre. Ricardy is a New York-based actor, and a former Bat, the Obie-award Resident Acting Company of the Flea Theatre under the artistic direction of Niegel Smith. In New York, he performed in The Weekend Cottage and The System at Flea Theatre. Regionally, he’s performed in Our Town, Ain’t Missbehavin‘, and Othello at Portland Center Stage, as well as in The Convert at Underground Railway Theatre, and Belleville at Third Rail Repertory Theatre. He is also a recent member of Actors’ Equity Association.

Charles Leggett (Karl Lindner)
At Seattle Repertory Theatre: Mycroft Holmes and Solomon Moses, Sherlock Holmes and The American Problem; Sir Charles Baskerville and Frankland, The Hound of the Baskervilles; Donnie Dubrow, American Buffalo; Lennie, Of Mice and Men; Dave Moss, Glengarry Glen Ross; Carl, Opus; Sir Toby Belch, Twelfth Night; Mortimer Durham, The Constant Wife; Brighella, The King Stag; and Sturdyvant, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Charles is a recipient and three-time nominee of the Theatre Puget Sound Gregory Award for Outstanding Actor for work here as well as at ACT Theatre (Ray in Steven Dietz’s Yankee Tavern) and Seattle Shakespeare Company (Shylock, The Merchant of Venice).

Catalino Manalang (Travis Younger)
Catalino has been active in his school drama programs appearing as The Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz, and Cat in the Hat in Seussical at Hawthorne Elementary. Catalino has also performed as Mr. Lyons in Thriller at Columbia City Youth Theatre, and has appeared in a YouTube special entitled Archetype Pie as The Kid at Orca Middle School. For the past two summers, Catalino performed in the Seattle Parks and Recreation Summer Musical Program. In 2015, he was cast as Mini in Snow White and the Seven, and this year as a pirate in Peter Pan and My Brother’s Keeper.

Claudine Mboligikpelani Nako (Beneatha Younger)
Claudine Mboligikpelani Nako makes her Seattle Repertory Theatre debut in the iconic role of Beneatha Younger. Nako is a 2016 Gregory Award Nominee for her performance in My Heart is the Drum (Village Theatre). Claudine won the 2015 Gregory Award for Outstanding Actress for her portrayal of the title character in Little Bee (Book-It Rep). Selected credits: The Mountaintop (Snowy Range), Mr. Burns (ACT), Hair (ArtsWest), Big River (Village). Film/TV: “Grimm” (NBC), The Kickback (RSA Productions), Octopus (moxie pictures), Hearsay (Rotten Orchard). Commercial: Discovery Channel, Toyota, Amazon, Microsoft, Kroger Corp.

Anthony Simmons (Moving Man)
Anthony Simmons is a recent graduate of Cornish College of the Arts. He is making his Seattle Rep debut with A Raisin in the Sun. Recent credits include Our Lady of 121st Street (Rooftop) at Seattle University, Black Bear Radio (Park Chestah) and Hooded or Being Black for Dummies (Marquis) at Theatre Battery.

Timothy McCuen Piggee (Director) has appeared on most Seattle stages, in leading roles with ACT Theatre, Intiman Theatre, Village Theatre, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Seattle Children’s Theatre, The 5th Avenue Theatre, Showtunes Operating Theater, Seattle Group Theatre, The Empty Space Theatre, and Tacoma Actor’s Guild, among others. Nationally, his work has been seen on Broadway and at the Denver Center Theatre Company, Arizona Theatre Company, Kansas City Repertory Theatre, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Portland Center Stage, and Pioneer Theatre Company, among others. His film and television credits include Navy Diver, Outpatient, After, Crocodile Tears, Take One, “The David Letterman Show,” and the “65th Annual Tony Awards.” Timothy has directed numerous productions at Cornish College of the Arts, as well as productions and readings at Theater Schmeater,Seattle Repertory Theatre, Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center, and Village Theatre. As an educator, he has taught courses at Freehold Theatre Lab/Studio, Langston Hughes Cultural Arts Center, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Seattle Children’s Theatre, and Cornish College of the Arts, where he is currently a professor in the Theatre Department. His awards and honors include the 2015 Gregory A. Falls award for Sustained Achievement, the 2015 Lunt-Fontanne Fellowship, 2012 University of Utah Distinguished Alumnus Award, Gregory and Gypsy Rose Lee Awards for his performance in Angels in America, Cornish College of the Arts Teaching Excellence Award, 4 Seattle Times Footlight Awards, Seattle Weekly Critics Award (’97), Seattle Post-Intelligencer Performance of the Year Award, Utah Holiday Award, 2003 ARTSFUND Special Recognition, and nominations for AriZoni and Golden Laurel Awards.

The creative team includes Michael Ganio, scenic design; Melanie Taylor Burgess, costume design; Robert J. Aguilar, lighting design; Matt Starritt, sound design; Geoffrey Alm, Fight Director; Alyssa Keene, Dialect Coach; Kristin Leahey, Dramaturg; Joi Gresham, Script Consultant.

Seattle Rep was founded in 1963 and is currently led by Artistic Director Braden Abraham and Managing Director Jeffrey Herrmann. One of America’s premier non-profit resident theatres, Seattle Repertory Theatre has achieved international renown for its consistently high production and artistic standards, and was awarded the 1990 Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre. With an emphasis on entertaining plays of true dramatic and literary worth, Seattle Rep produces a season of plays along with educational programs, new play workshops, and special presentations.

Lia Chang_photo by Garth Kravits

Lia Chang_photo by Garth Kravits

Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers,  musicians and corporations. Lia is also an internationally published and exhibited photographer, a multi-platform journalist, and a publicist. 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, Taxman and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in Examiner.comJade Magazine and

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