On the Red Carpet: The Broadway Cast of Home on Being 'Completely Exposed' On Stage | Playbill

Opening Night On the Red Carpet: The Broadway Cast of Home on Being 'Completely Exposed' On Stage

Plus, the red carpet attendees included LaChanze, Tovah Feldshuh, and Denée Benton.

Tony Award-winning director Kenny Leon does not play in the rehearsal room. To wit: "If [the cast is] late, we all do 20 push-ups," he said jovially on the red carpet of the Broadway revival of Home by Samm-Art Williams. We weren't sure if he was kidding or not (though you can judge by watching the video above). Read what critics had to say here.

But the mood was light June 5 at the first opening night of the 2024–2025 Broadway season. The show's cast and director were on hand to celebrate the return of Home, which was first presented in 1980, and to honor Williams, who recently passed. The show, which just calls for three actors, is about Cephus Miles (played by Tory Kittles), a Black southern farmer who is jailed for his opposition to the Vietnam War. He then moves north, only to find even more difficulties away from his North Carolina home. 

Purchase the opening night Playbill for Home here.

"The great Samm-Art Williams' passing a couple of weeks ago, that's the part that's kind of bitter," said Leon. "But the beautiful thing is that he left us an amazing play, a universal play for everybody. Everybody can always come home—you can get knocked down 50 times in life and still get up. Samm, he lived a life of giving, you know what I mean? So his work sort of parallels the way he lived life. So I'm very excited tonight to do this play with this cast."

Kittles admits that he was initially nervous to do the play, because it's a spare set with very little props. That means the actors need to rely on their own body and voice to transport the audience through decades of storytelling, different locations, and characters. "You're completely exposed, there's no running, there's no hiding, you are there," said Kittles. "But you know, Kenny prepared us in such an amazing way, he did something that has never happened to me before in a rehearsal room. He opened it up to about 30 or 40 people; I think it was the second week of rehearsal. And this is without the bells and whistles of the stage or the lights or the music. This is just you putting on a play in front of 30-40 people, which is quite terrifying, because you can see their reactions to everything. But it also prepared us in a way for a bigger audience, and it made us sort of lean into the material more and trust the material. The play really is the thing, you know what I mean?"

Kittles was also quick to credit co-stars Brittany Inge and Stori Ayers, who play dozens of characters each in the play. Though when asked how she was able to differentiate between so many characters, Inge was quick to credit another member of the show: "We had a wonderful vocal coach, Kate Wilson, who worked with us and really just helped us lean into the specificity of each character as we saw them on the page. It's like, 'Does this person remind you of a cousin or parent?' Leaning into the people that we know, and bringing those people to the stage to make it even more specific and more authentic, so we use that technique. And that's how you end up with the many, many, many characters that you see throughout the show."

That spirit of camaraderie permeated throughout the evening. The show's cast repeatedly emphasized that despite the show portraying one man's hardship, it's also a hopeful play for today's harsh times. 

Says Ayers: "For me, home is where love is, it's where God is. And no matter what happens in life, how tough things get or what road, [if] I'm traveling that feels like I'm alone, it's a reminder that I'm not alone. And I can always return to love. And I think that with all that's happening in our country, and around the world, and especially trying to bring theatre back after the pandemic—it's a reminder that we all need. And so I'm hoping that audiences when they see the show that they feel inspired and that they feel not alone, that they feel that they can return to whatever home is for them. And so I think that's why [the play] should be on Broadway."

One of the show's understudies, Kimber Elayne Sprawl, added that Home is also a way for a new generation of Black artists to learn about a seminal figure in Black theatre history. "I didn't even know who Samm-Art Williams was untiI I got the audition....It's sort of sad that we don't know who these people are, and we can't treasure them while they're on earth. Black people, African Americans, people of color, we've given so much to the Broadway community, and sometimes those voices, those faces are left behind. So most importantly, everyone now knows the name Samm-Art Williams in my generation and the younger generation." 

See the red carpet photos below, where attendees included LaChanze, Tovah Feldshuh, and Denée Benton.

Photos: Home Opening Night on Broadway

Home also features RJ Foster as an understudy. The production has set design by Arnulfo Maldonado, costume design by Dede Ayite, lighting design by Allen Lee Hughes, and sound design by Justin Ellington.

Home is part of Roundabout’s Refocus Project, dedicated to redefining what makes a "classic" play by spotlighting 20th-century plays from BIPOC playwrights that need more attention.

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