Few stars shone as brightly as Sidney Poitier.
In films like “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” and “In the Heat of the Night,” Poitier turned in powerful performances that electrified audiences. He also broke racial barriers as a leading man and top box office draw in the 1950s and 1960s, and became the first African American male to win an Oscar for best actor for his performance in “Lilies of the Field.” Though best known for his film work in front of the camera, Poitier also became a director making hits such as “Stir Crazy.” On stage, he appeared in the first production of “A Raisin in the Sun.”
Now, Poitier’s legendary life as a performer, director, and activist will be dramatized in a new Broadway play that will be written by Charles Randolph-Wright and directed by Tony Award winner Ruben Santiago-Hudson. Titled “Sidney,” the show will trace Poitier’s youth on Cat Island in the Bahamas to his rise to become one of the world’s biggest stars. The play is being mounted with the support of the Poitier family, which selected both Randolph-Wright and Santiago-Hudson to write and direct the production. “Sidney” is produced by Ron Gillyard (“Born for This”); Poitier’s daughter, filmmaker Anika Poitier; and Barry Krost. The play is adapted from Poitier’s best-selling autobiography “The Measure of a Man.”
Randolph-Wright is the author of “Blue” and the upcoming “American Prophet: Frederick Douglass In His Own Words.” He is also the director of Roundabout Theatre Company’s critically acclaimed revival of Alice Childress’ “Trouble in Mind,” which opened on Broadway this fall.
Santiago-Hudson is also on Broadway this season as the author, director and star of “Lackawanna Blues.” He previously directed the Tony-winning Broadway premiere of August Wilson’s “Jitney” and will direct the upcoming Broadway premiere of Dominique Morisseau’s “Skeleton Crew.”
In a statement, Randoph-Wright said, “The first time I met Sidney Poitier was decades ago when he saw a show I co-wrote and directed in Los Angeles. We went to dinner and I literally could not speak. He said to me, ‘If in any way I have inspired you, you have more than paid me back with what I saw this evening.’ I have held onto those words my entire career. And now to place his astonishing life on stage is the ultimate challenge and the ultimate joy. To have the trust of Mr. Poitier and his family is one of the greatest gifts I have been given – what an honor to get to dramatize the true measure of this monumental man. I look forward to the world discovering the astounding person that is behind one of our most prodigious heroes, a man who continues to inspire.”
Santiago-Hudson added, “Sir Sidney Poitier is clearly one of the greatest actors in the history of cinema. His integrity and standard of excellence set the bar for generations to come. It is an honor to be a part of celebrating the incomparable Sidney Poitier’s monumental career in this play but also the man and his extraordinary life.”
The cast and creative team will be announced at a later date, as will a production timeline.