Play to open at Broadhurst in March

Terrence Howard, Anika Noni Rose, James Earl Jones and Phylicia Rashad head an all-black cast in the latest Broadway revival of “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” set to open in March.

Howard and Rose play the troubled couple at the center of the play’s tempestuous Southern family. Rose (“Dreamgirls”), who won a 2004 Tony for her perf in “Caroline, or Change,” will portray caged Southern belle Maggie the Cat, while Howard (“Hustle & Flow”) makes his Rialto debut as her alcoholic husband, Brick.

Jones (“Fences,” “On Golden Pond”) and Rashad (“A Raisin in the Sun,” “Cymbeline”) play the patriarch and matriarch of the wealthy clan, respectively.

Other roles remain to be cast.

Debbie Allen (who is Rashad’s sister) helms the $2.8 million production of Tennessee Williams’ 1955 play. Legit tyro Stephen Byrd, the head of a private equity company who has been working on the project for more than a decade, produces.

Production aims to widen its appeal beyond traditional Broadway theatergoers, who tend to be white and middle-aged, to include the African-American demo successfully tapped by the 2004 revival of “A Raisin in the Sun” (for which Rashad, who co-starred with Sean Combs, won a Tony) and the 2005 staging of “Julius Caesar” toplined by Denzel Washington. Both those productions, like “Cat,” were limited runs of canonical plays; among tuners, 2005 musical “The Color Purple” has also succeeded in attracting black auds.

Upcoming revival of “Cat” will be the fourth to appear on Broadway. Most recent production, directed by Anthony Page in 2003, proved profitable thanks to the star power of a cast that included Ashley Judd, Jason Patric and Ned Beatty.

New incarnation begins previews Feb. 12 for a March 6 opening at the Broadhurst. Engagement is so far set to run through April 13.

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