The dream is no longer deferred. At least not the one of Broadway accomplishment for Keenan Scott II. After a 2019 run at Syracuse Stage his new play, Thoughts of A Colored Man, opened earlier this week at the Golden Theatre—and it’s simply fabulous.
The 90-minute work takes place in a single day in Brooklyn and weaves together the experiences of seven black men but it could well be set anywhere. For it is the emotions and stories that are the forward thrust of this piece.
Whether it’s Anger (Tristan Mack Wilds) deriding the exploitation of young promising ball players (“Most of these Athletic Departments care about the athlete, not the student”), Happiness (Bryan Terrell Clark) lamenting the fact that his successful gay identity is a cultural challenge (“I’m too black for my white friends, not black enough for my black friends.”) or Wisdom (Esau Pritchett) waxing fondly on his wife of 42 years (“She’s like skat notes on the lips of jazz singers. In smoke filled rooms with half-filled glasses we fell more in love. I wanna touch her waist and hum baby because baby looks good. Her curves remind me of the abstract art that once hung in Harlem”), there is poetry and poignancy in each of their tales.
Love (Dyllón Burnside), Lust (Da’Vinchi), Depression (Forrest McClendon), and Passion (Luke James) are the remaining four who command the stage against Robert Brill’s simple, yet effective scaffolded set. Many are easily recognizable from prior stage and screen roles.
Financial struggles, fatherhood, sexuality, gun violence, fulfillment, and joy are among the many topics explored here. While no single group is homogenous, Scott II has done a marvelous job of depicting multiple issues all while maintaining truth and integrity. He also offers a plea to “help our young brothers out.” It is deeply convicting and will likely cause the hardest heart -regardless of race- to introspect.
Musicians Te’La and Kamauu provide a uniquely marvelous score between scenes, while Ryan O’Gara’s lighting offers some masterful, awe-inspiring moments.
Director Steve H. Broadnax III, who directed Signature Theatre’s excellent The Hot Wing King, has once again delivered a fine night of theater full of questions, answers, laughs, and inspiration.
Thoughts of A Colored Man is now at the Golden Theatre (252 West 45th Street between 8th and Broadway). For tickets and information, click here.