The Playgoer: Dutton does Wilson

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Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Dutton does Wilson

Michael Riedel gives an enticing glimpse at a special one-man, one-night-only show Charles Dutton recently did at the O'Neill Center, his tribute to August Wilson.

Dutton fashioned his one-night show, "A Special Tribute to August Wilson," from monologues and scenes from "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom," "Joe Turner's Come and Gone," "The Piano Lesson" and "Fences."

Switching effortlessly from tragedy to comedy, anguish to exuberance, the actor - who received Tony nominations for his performances in "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" and "The Piano Lesson" - conveyed the vast emotional sweep of Wilson's writing.

There's no one I'd rather see perform this material, having missed his original creation of those two roles, and intrigued to see what he does with the rest of the Wilson canon....The good news is, thanks to Riedel's buzz, maybe someone will bring Dutton's show to New York for a proper run. Preferably not on Broadway, but more like the $15-a-pop Signature season, so it exposes Wilson's work in the way Dutton's champions hope--like Jack Viertel: "For younger people who haven't seen these works, it's a great introduction to August Wilson, and it will send them to the plays."

(Reidel also tracks the big upcoming "Fences" revival in L.A. with Laurence Fishburne and Angela Bassett.)

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