October 25, 2021

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‘Trouble in Mind’ works to create more inclusive Broadway in Star Lachanz

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It’s been almost two years since the lights went out on Broadway, and now that musical instruments and plays have begun to reopen, actor Lachanze is itching to get back to his favorite thing.

“I’m dying to get back on stage,” he says. “I’m looking forward to that organic exchange with the audience again.”

He doesn’t have to wait any longer. The 59-year-old, recognized for his Tony-winning role in “The Color Purple” and his outstanding performances in “Once Upon a Time on the Island” and “Summer: The Donna Summer Musical”, is returning to the Great White Way to “feel the pain.” The Roundabout Theater Company is supporting the show, which begins previews in late October.

“Trouble in Mind” 1 centers on a black stage actor navigating the civil rights and feminist movements of the Black50s. Although the play was written and first produced in 1955, Lachanze says the issues of race, identity and ownership have made it “more important today”.

He hopes the show will continue a trend of bringing the presence of marginal artists to Broadway. A record seven plays by Black artists are set to premiere this season. But, he insisted, the bigger push for inclusion could not be taken by manufacturers as an opportunity for “tokenism”.

“People [need to] See the value of a trans person having a trans role or a person having a disability [playing the role of a disabled person]”She’s still an artist, and she needs to be represented,” he says.

The upcoming production of “Trouble in Mind” is particularly meaningful because for the first time in his decade-long career, Lachanze is working with a black director.

“I had to go to my white male director and explain why some characters would like a scene differently,” he says. “Working with a black director, I don’t have to fight so hard.”

To that end, LaChanze was keen to enter production. He spent the “Reading Drama and Studying Business” lockdown to ensure the movement to further diversify Broadway, not just seen as a moment.

“I look for a story that people can relate to all castes and perspectives, not just the people who are telling the story,” he said.

It could also mean changing the cast of the cast. When he was tapped in 1995 for the Broadway revival of Stephen Sundime’s “Company”, he found cracks in that particular ceiling. She mentioned that she first played the role of a black woman. “I was so proud, I couldn’t believe it happened.”

Now, LaChanze is releasing another break-even performance. He wants to portray Aaron Burr in “Hamilton”. “I don’t know if it will ever happen, but I’m very interested in playing roles written primarily for men,” he said.

One thing is clear: he wants to be in the room where this will happen.

Related stories:

How Black Creatives are working to shake up Broadway and implement lasting change

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