I have never been so moved in the theater! I tell you all, I saw history being made as “Death of a Salesman” by Arthur Miller was mounted with its first Black cast in starring roles in the history of Broadway! “Death of a Salesman,” done from a Black family perspective, takes Broadway BRILLIANCE to an astronomical level at the Hudson Theatre. The classic play about salesman Willy Loman, and his family—wife Linda and adult sons Biff and Happy—watching his emotional and mental deterioration, profoundly demonstrates the feeling of failure that a Black man can feel when his dreams for himself and his children don’t come true. British director Miranda Cromwell lets the audience know, from the very first moments, that this play has a Black focus. Opening with gospel music strains, the play utilizes this music throughout, to soothe Willy and to dramatize moments, and then bring things full circle with more gospel towards the end for a sense of continuity.

Wendell Pierce delivers Willy Loman with every fiber of his being! He takes us on an emotionally crazed journey of a man on the verge of desperation. He takes us through tremendous highs and lows. He talks about being so tired when driving back from Yonkers that he forgot he was driving. He is tired of being a salesman who no one knows anymore. He is no longer welcome when he comes to call—he’s ignored. You see Willy’s depression, fatigue, and mental illness as he recalls memories from his past with his sons, mostly focusing on Biff’s accomplishments as captain of his high school football team and how everyone looked up to Biff as a leader. Everyone knows that something is seriously wrong with Willy.

Sharon D Clarke as Linda Loman is a powerhouse and a tour-de-force. She takes the audience on a rollercoaster ride that will have you gripped with emotion. You will have tears streaming down your face as you hear her implore Biff and Happy to help Willy. As the matriarch, she has taken on the role of attempting to unite the family, but the relationships between Willy and his sons are too damaged. She goes into protective mode for Willy, but his state of mind is beyond her healing. Clarke masterfully gives us those heart pounding moments of disgust, disappointment and anger, anger that was well-founded against two ungrateful sons.

Khris Davis is stunning as Biff. His best years were in high school; he can’t amount to the man his father wanted him to be. Biff has a pivotal moment that happened between him and Willy in the past, that changed the course of his life and to which cannot let go. Davis lets you see the conflict that this character experiences. He needs his father to drop the high expectations he has of him, but Willy won’t do that.

McKinley Belcher III is riveting as Happy, the younger son who lives in the shadow of Biff. He was always ignored by Willy, so he’s always trying to get his acknowledgement and approval.

Happy has no problem lying to Willy about his business success and future plans, just to try to give him a moment of fake joy. But when the truth comes out he backs away.

Andre De Shields gives a sterling performance as Ben. There is a certain charm, elegance and sophistication that goes with this veteran thespian of over 50 years and he brings it all to this role.

This is one play where the supporting cast are absolutely phenomenal. Delaney Williams as Willy’s only friend Charley, brings a great deal of patience and compassion to the play. Charley helps Willy financially, but is also someone that Willy is jealous of, but he stays true to his friend. Stephen Stocking as Bernard, Charley’s smart son and a friend and tutor to Biff, gives a delightful performance. Chelsea Lee Williams plays multiple roles and adds an element of humor to the play. The rest of this capable cast includes Lynn Hawley, Blake DeLong and Grace Porter. Although “Death of a Salesman” is set in 1949, Brooklyn, it is a story that is very relevant today. I think anyone sitting in the theater can identify with what Willy and his family went through.

“Death of a Salesman” is as good as it gets for a remarkable drama on Broadway. I cannot stress this enough—go and see it!!!

For tickets and more info, visit www.salesmanonbroadway.com.

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