Actor returns to Broadway in Wilson revival

Denzel Washington will return to Broadway in a revival of “Fences,” the Pulitzer Prize-winning August Wilson play.

Washington has closed a deal to play Maxson family patriarch Troy Maxson, a role originated by James Earl Jones. Kenny Leon (“A Raisin in the Sun”) is negotiating to direct.

Washington will begin rehearsing in February for an April opening. He will topline “Fences” in a 14-week run through mid-July.

Scott Rudin and Carole Shorenstein Hays will produce.

Hays was lead producer of “Julius Caesar,” in starred Washington in the role of Brutus in 2005. That stint established Washington as a legit box office draw who could tap both the traditional theatergoing demo as well as an African-American audience that also turned out for Sean Combs’ turn in the hit 2004 revival of “A Raisin in the Sun.” Washington’s 14-week run in “Julius Caesar” grossed north of $8.5 million overall.

The producers, who locked a deal with Washington’s WME rep Ed Limato late Friday, are now in talks to secure a theater.

In the current Rialto season, Washington joins a celeb-heavy lineup of Broadway plays that already includes the Daniel Craig-Hugh Jackman-starrer “A Steady Rain” and “Hamlet” with Jude Law starring.

Washington’s next big-screen turn is “Book of Eli,” the Allen and Albert Hughes-directed drama from Alcon Entertainment that Warner Bros. releases on January 15. Washington is currently starring with Chris Pine in “Unstoppable,” the Tony Scott-directed drama for 20th Century Fox.

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