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Brian White and David E. Talbert on 'What My Husband Doesn't Know'

Special to AmNews | , Linda Armstrong | 5/25/2011, 9:23 a.m.

New York, get ready to go to the theater. David E. Talbert will be bringing his new work, "What My Husband Doesn't Know," to the Beacon Theater, April 7-10. The play, Talbert's 13th, stars Michelle Williams, Morris Chestnut, Ann Nesby and Brian White. This time Talbert is wearing three hats, as the playwright, director and producer. The show is currently on a 30-city tour--after New York there will only be four cities remaining.

The AmNews recently had the opportunity to talk with the creative genius Talbert and one of the cast members. White, who plays Paul, is making his stage debut with this work and was glad to talk about this experience and his career. After five novels and one feature film, and receiving honors such as the New York Literary Award for Best Playwright and an NAACP Award for his work, "The Fabric of a Man," Talbert was very humble as he talked about his newest and most challenging endeavor.

A Q&A follows with White and Talbert.

AmNews: You star in TV series like "Men of a Certain Age" and have been in numerous movies, including romantic comedies like "Politics of Love," Tyler Perry films like "I Can Do Bad All by Myself" and musical dramas like "Stomp the Yard"--what attracted you to this play?

Brian White: David E. Talbert and his work. I've been a fan of his for years. There have been some great playwrights--Tennessee Williams and William Shakespeare--and David E. Talbert is in that category. We will make a feature film of this production following the tour, and Morris Chestnut and I will be doing it with him.

This is my first play and I wanted to place myself in someone's hands who I would feel safe with. I'm the apprentice and he is the master. It's been a wild ride. It's a different type of experience from a film or a TV show. On a play we all go through it together, you get the feedback: people will laugh or boo. It sharpens your skills as an actor--there are no second takes. You get to see and look at people eye-to-eye who support you. It's been a real blessing and people have been very supportive.

AmNews: Which character do you play and how would you describe him?

White: I play Paul. The story is about a husband and a wife, Franklin and Lena, and I'm a plumber. Franklin asks me to come to his home to do some work. He is a huge mogul and Paul has never seen a Black mogul--he didn't know that Black people lived like this. Franklin says, "All this can be yours if you do these things," and that leads to problems. He's opened up the door to his house to another man.

The biggest challenge is how to juggle a career and keep your wife happy. David gives ideas on how to handle these situations. There's some slapstick, cursing and sexuality--it will make you cry and laugh--and he packs all of this into one play. We come out after every show and people say, "This is so real, I didn't expect it." My wife saw it and she cried--so did my mom. David brings together a blend of big and broad drama with the comedy of a stage play. David has found a way to do that and weave in powerful music by Michelle Williams. I think David is just a genius.