Actress will star in Nottage play

Sanaa Lathan will topline the world preem of “By the Way, Meet Vera Stark,” scribe Lynn Nottage’s first play to hit New York after her Pulitzer Prize winner “Ruined.”

Lathan, who played Maggie in the recent West End revival of “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” previously appeared on Broadway in the 2004 staging of “A Raisin in the Sun.” Her next film is the upcoming “Contagion.”

“Vera Stark” cast already includes Stephanie J. Block (“9 to 5″), Daniel Breaker (“Shrek the Musical”) and Karen Olivo (“West Side Story”). Jo Bonney helms the Off Broadway production from Second Stage Theater. New play uses the screwball conventions of 1930s films to examine race in Hollywood, with a storyline that centers on Vera Stark (Lathan), an African-American maid and an aspiring actress. Block appears as the white film star for whom Vera works.

Second Stage production begins previews April 6 ahead of a May 9 opening.

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