February 2, 2023


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Stephen McKinley Henderson in ‘Between Riverside and Crazy’

2 min read

When Stephen McKinley Henderson talks about playwrights, he talks about music.

Listen to this week’s “Stagecraft” podcast below:

“August Wilson, of course, the blues,” he said in a new episode of Stagecraft. diversityIts Theater Podcast. “But Stephen is the rock to me.”

Actor Stephen Adley was talking about Girgis, whose play “Between Riverside and Crazy” brought Henderson back to Broadway in a production that also featured Common. “Stephen has some jazz threads inside, but the thought group and the breath group and the phrasing, it’s got some classic rock,” he continued. “That’s my approach. Stephen has some Coltrane-type, long, long phrases, but then he’s got some really interesting stuff like Dylan, which you just hear it and it’s like, ‘Oh yeah, there’s that wisdom.’

Henderson’s origins as a stage actor had roles in film and poetry. In New Stagecraft, he recalls going to the movies with his brother, who was deaf, and then acting out parts for him that his sibling couldn’t catch. Even as a child, Henderson discovered poetry and recited a line from “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” at Stagecraft, which really turned him into a storytelling force.

“I saw the relatable nature of the stories that people needed to know, that they needed to know right now, and how it could change their path,” he said.

One of the leading interpreters of Wilson’s work (“Jitney,” “Fences”), Henderson has recently appeared in film and TV projects including “Dune,” “Daves” and “Causeway.” At Stagecraft, he reveals what he can about his busy upcoming projects, including the “Dune” sequel and “Beau Is Afraid,” and also explains how he first met stage collaborators like Wilson and Girgis — and why working on the new play It was what he had wanted since he first appeared in a school production of “A Raisin in the Sun.”

“When I picked up the play ‘Raisin in the Sun’ and I saw on the front page, who was the original cast? I wanted to be on a page of those books,” he said. “When they pick it up and it says ‘Original Cast.’ That’s where I wanted to be.”

To hear the full conversation, listen at the link above or download and subscribe to “Stagecraft” on podcast platforms including Apple Podcasts, Spotify and the Broadway Podcast Network. New episodes of “Stagecraft” are released every week.

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