“Stick Fly” is what Broadway theater should be: an original idea, a captivating storyline-unpredictable and hilarious, but with a dose of biting realism. Now, take all of that and couple it with the fact that the play is by Black playwright Lydia R. Diamond, has flawless direction by Black veteran Broadway director Kenny Leon and showcases the amazing talents of a mainly Black cast (some veterans, some debuts), and you have the stuff marvelous Broadway productions are made of.
The cast hits the ground running and includes veteran playwright, director and screenwriter Ruben Santiago-Hudson, who plays patriarch Dr. LeVay, a neurosurgeon who unmistakably controls those around him. He can be cruel at times, but it’s due to his unflinching opinion about which professions are real and which are wastes of time. He’s the judgmental type of dad who makes his adult sons feel like little children.
Mekhi Phifer, making his Broadway debut, definitely leaves a powerful impression as older son Flip, a plastic surgeon who needs some work done on his personality and attitude towards women and relationships.
Dule Hill, best known for his continuing role in the TV show “Psych,” plays the sensitive and fragile Spoon, the younger son. Never able to gain his father’s approval, Spoon has jumped from job to job trying to find himself and now realizes his niche is being a novelist, a career move strongly supported by his fiancee, Taylor (Tracie Thoms). Thoms has so much spirit and unpredictable, unbridled anger and passion when portraying Taylor; she reminds you of someone obviously trying to prove a point. And while Taylor is a smart, accomplished girl, she has devastating skeletons in her closet.
Condola Rashd makes her Broadway debut, and you will definitely remember her as she blazes an impressive trail in the role of Cheryl, the young maid/college student. Rosie Benton rounds out the cast as Kimber, Flip’s white girlfriend. She’s a rich girl who works with underprivileged inner-city minority youth to make a difference.
These characters come together to spend a weekend at the LeVays’ Martha’s Vineyard home, which turns out to be a weekend filled with confrontation, secrets revealed and hearts both supported and betrayed. This play brilliantly demonstrates that Diamond is just what Broadway needed, and that her creative talents have found a place to be appreciated. It is also phenomenal to have this cast on that stage.
This play is an experience you will not forget. Diamond puts so many issues out there in a very bold manner, including class distinction among Blacks, prejudice, abandonment by a parent and the resulting emotional baggage. There’s a focus on the pride a person can have in their work, whether domestic work or something else.
Every facet of this multilayered story comes together gloriously through the brilliant directing abilities of Leon, who, by the way, has two productions currently on Broadway, both by Black female playwrights and starring African-American casts. His other production is “The Mountaintop” starring Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett, written by Katori Hall.
All the action of this play occurs on a magnificently detailed set designed by David Gallo. Alicia Keys takes on two roles with this production, as co-producer and creator of the lovely original music used throughout the play. “Stick Fly” is playing at the Cort Theatre on West 48th Street.