The play, written by Charles Fuller, is set in 1944 and follows a murder mystery centered around the death of black Sergeant Vernon C. Waters (played by Grier) who is found on a Louisiana army base. A driven investigator named Captain Richard Davenport (portrayed by Underwood), must solve the racially charged crime.
A previous 1981 Off-Broadway adaptation of “A Soldier’s Play” included a cast of Denzel Washington, Samuel L. Jackson, Adolph Caesar, Larry Riley, Peter Friedman and Charles Brown. That rendition earned several awards, including the N.Y. Drama Critics’ Circle award for best American play, three Obie awards and a Pulitzer Prize. In 1984, a film adaptation of “A Soldier’s Play” earned Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for best picture and best screenplay.
Tony award-winning director Kenny Leon will helm the production. He recently directed a modernized adaptation of “Much Ado About Nothing” in Manhattan’s Shakespeare in the Park. Underwood is known for his role on Broadway in “A Streetcar Named Desire” and in Netflix series such as “When They See Us” and “Dear White People.” Grier, who starred in the theater and film adaptations of “A Soldier’s Play” in the ’80s, is known for his theater roles in “The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess” and “Race,” as well as his on-screen roles in “The Carmichael Show” and as the Cowardly Lion in the 2015 live television production of “The Wiz Live!”
“A Soldier’s Play” will begin previews at the American Airlines Theatre Dec. 27 with an official opening scheduled for Jan. 21.