Fear the Walking Dead star and Philadelphia native Colman Domingo partners with nationally-acclaimed theatre-maker Patricia McGregor to co-author Lights Out: Nat “King” Cole, a surprising and unsettling exploration of race and the American Dream. McGregor will also direct. This powerhouse team imagines Cole reckoning with the demise of his televised variety show after it fails to attract a national sponsor. As he faces his final Christmastime broadcast, Cole weighs the advice of his friend Sammy Davis, Jr. to “go out with a bang,” against his producer’s wishes to say goodbye with grace.
Producing Director Zak Berkman says, “Although Colman and Patricia set this play in December 1957, the story they tell speaks as much to our post-Obama era as to the one Nat and Sammy experienced.
“In our current moment of national upheaval, it is vital to question our icons and longstanding myths. We need to create new kinds of monuments made of tough, honest reflection. Lights Out does just that. It entertains and elevates—it’s infused with dance, hit songs, and holiday standards—but also invites the audience to encounter these American legends, and hear their music, in a provocative new way.”
Performed on the People’s Light intimate Steinbright Stage from October 11 – December 3, 2017, Lights Out will feature The West Wing and Psych alum Dulé Hill as Cole. Hamilton veteran and Broadway regular Daniel J. Watts portrays Sammy Davis, Jr. John McDaniel, best known as Rosie O’Donnell’s music director throughout her highly successful talk-show, supervises the music. All three of these artists, along with Berkman, participated in intensive development workshops of Lights Out that People’s Light produced at The Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, and at New York Stage & Film on the campus of Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York.
Co-author Colman Domingo says, “We are beyond thrilled to collaborate with Dulé and Daniel, two of the most generous souls and dynamic performers working across entertainment platforms.” Co-author and director McGregor adds, “It just makes complete sense to create with artists of this caliber who are equally passionate about music, dance, and social justice. They stand on the shoulders of the phenomenal Nat ‘King’ Cole, and will aid in this production’s interrogation of art, heart, and the mind.”
Hill and Watts head an impressive cast of artists, many of them new to People’s Light. Gisela Adisa (Eartha Kitt/Natalie Cole), Marc D. Donovan (Producer), Rachael Duddy (Betty Hutton/Peggy Lee), Dayshawn Jacobs (Billy/Young Nat), Zonya Love (Perlina), and Jo Twiss (Candy) all make their People’s Light debut. Owen Pelesh, previously seen in Malvern in The Three Musketeers: The Later Years, plays the Stage Manager. Music Director Ryan Slatko leads a quartet of musicians. Frequent guest artist Jason Pizzi (Surviving Twin, The Road) stage manages the production.
This production has been supported by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage. Production sponsors include PNC Arts Alive! and PECO.