When Kerry Washington does something, she commits. As she makes her return to Broadway in the new play American Son, she hits the Main Stem as both star and producer. Having been on hiatus from Broadway since her appearance in 2009’s Race, the Scandal star read the script after a long day on set, couldn’t put it down, and put the pieces in motion to make sure audiences would flock to the show.
“I think the play is so important because I do think we are living in a time where sometimes we get scared to have the difficult conversations and hear other POV, but I think we have to hear each other, we have to matter to each other. And I hope that when people come to see the play, the play is the beginning of multiple conversations for them,” she told Playbill on the opening night red carpet November 4, 2018. (Watch the full interview below.)
The playwright, a trial attorney by day and co-founder of Zoetic Stage Company in Florida, makes his Broadway debut at age 54 with the work. “In any play when I write characters who are different—and I almost always do—I try to research people by speaking with friends that I have and trust that are willing to sit down with me and answer pointed questions,” said Demos-Brown. “Having some life experience helps because I have lots of different things I've done and I can draw on those things.”
Indeed, the relationship between the black mother and white father pacing the police station in the middle of the night while trying to find their missing son is at the core of the story. The play exposes four very different points of view in Kendra (Washington), her newly-estranged husband Scott (Steven Pasquale), a junior white police officer (Jeremy Jordan, who spoke to Playbill beginning 35:00), and a seasoned black police officer (Eugene Lee, who spoke to Playbill beginning 12:30).
Washington recruited her friend Pasquale to play her onstage husband. “We’d done a couple of readings together many years ago and have been fans of each other’s work and I’d done two other Broadway shows with [producer] Jeffrey Richards," Pasquale said. "She said, ‘Read this play and call me back.’ I was like, ‘Well unless I hate it I’m definitely going to do this play, it's Kerry Washington,’ but I was absolutely smitten for the writing. Christopher Demos-Brown is holding a mirror up to American culture in a way that is brutally courageous.”
This character, in particular, shows an arc we haven’t seen from the actor before. “It's a cis white male FBI agent who enters the story with all the power in the world and by the end of the play he is stripped entirely of every ounce of his power because he is perceived as the father of a black child,” he said. “It asks all the important and right questions that we need to be asking in America 2018.”
Watch the full Red Carpet Livestream in the video above. Be sure to follow Playbill on Facebook and opt-in for live video notifications so you never miss an opening night.