‘King’ courts Gotham

Thesp shaves head for B'way play

Out-of-town reports had it clocking at three hours and 45 minutes, but August Wilson brought in his latest, “King Hedley II,” at just under three for its run on Broadway. “This is it!” the playwright said of the shorter version, with no more words or scenes to come, he promised at the Copacabana party on Sunday night.

Of his eight full-length plays, Wilson said “KH2” required the most revisions on its way to Gotham. “Without a doubt. Yes! It was hard to crack it, to know what the play was about,” the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer said.

For his part, Brian Stokes Mitchell knew the tragic title character needed to be played without the benefit of hair.

“It’s actually the first time I’ve ever shaved my head,” the actor said. “People do look at you a little more scared. Which I kind of like. It’s nice to rewrite yourself from time to time.”

Going from “Kiss Me, Kate” to “King Hedley II,” Stokes Mitchell opined, “Oh, a play! I thought I’d give my voice a rest after doing a musical.”

Instead, he missed four previews due to swollen vocal cords (longer rehearsals for all those revisions?), pushing back the production’s official opening night from Sunday to Tuesday.

Notable in the audience: James Earl James, who starred in the 1987 Broadway drama “Fences,” which nabbed Wilson his first Pulitzer.

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