Star Power in Two River Theater's Production of August Wilson's "King Hedley II"

Nov 10, 2018

August Wilson's "King Hedley II", directed by Obie Award-winner Brandon J. Dirden, is the latest production at Two River Theater
Credit Two River Theater for WBGO

The year is 1985. King Hedley II has returned from prison looking to rebuild his life, save some money, plant a backyard garden, and start a family.  This production is the halfway mark of Two River Theater presenting the 10 plays of August Wilson’s American Century Cycle.

WBGO News Director Doug Doyle chats with two of the stars of King Hedley II, Harvy Blanks (Elmore) and Charlie Hudson III (Mister).

Obie Award-winner Brandon J. Dirden (A Raisin in the Sun, August Wilson’s Jitney) directs.

Charlie Hudson III plays "Mister" in "King Hedley II"
Credit Two River Theater for WBGO

Why does Charlie Hudson III enjoy performing in August Wilson's plays?

"It literally reminds me of my family.  Family and friends, stories I that I've heard growing up.  He's able to take all of those things and artistically wrote them down in such a way where when we get on stage it's like we're representing not only our family but our whole community.  It's beautiful just to be able to know that our stories deserve to be on stage and shoud be on stage.  It's a humbling experience to be able to say his words."

Hudson says fellow cast member Harvy Blanks is amazing and he's learning from him. 

Blanks, who was a guest on the WBGO Journal during his run as Shealy in Jitney on Broadway (see article below this one) has performed in all 10 of August Wilson's The Pittsburgh Cycle.  Blanks says the late playwright's use of language makes his plays powerful.

"The thing about it is with the language, it's not exactly often times the way we would turn a phrase at home because it's a heightened kind of a literary kind of an English.  There are twists and turns with August Wilson that heightens the whole literary experience.  He's just a remarkable writer."

Actor Harvy Blanks has performed in all ten of August Wilson's The Pittsburgh Cycle"
Credit Two River Theater for WBGO

Blanks says he considers Two River Theater his theater home.

"You know I can call up, and John (artistic director John Dias) will ask me, something you want to do? And sometimes I just come up to Red Bank because I kind of like the community.  I'll go work out, get me a sauna and go eat at one of the wonderful eateries around here and hang out with some of the management.  When I'm doing Broadway, I'm proud of doing it and representing Red Bank so to speak.  Alot of people came out to see the show from Red Bank, because we did Jitney here first before we took it to Broadway."

Blanks and Charlie Hudson III agree that this cast is like a family and both enjoy working with their friend

and director Brandon J. Dirden.  Hudson says Dirden is the coolest guy ever.

"I think it does help out the fact that he's an actor as well because he knows how to speak in the rehearsal room.  The rehearsal room is so much free of stress because knows his work and he knows us and he's able to relate, we almost have a shorthand."

Brandon J. Dirden put on a stirring performance in August Wilson's "Jitney" on Broadway
Credit Joan Marcus

Dirden wowed audiences last year as "Booster" in Broadway's Jitney (see article below) and as "Walter Lee Younger" in Two River Theater's A Raisin in the Sun.

Dirden gets the pleasure of working with a talented cast for King Hedley II which runs through December 16th at Two River's Marion Huber Theater. 

Joining Blanks and Hudson are Brittan Bellizeare (Tonya),  Brian D. Coats (Stool Pidgeon), Blake Morris (King Hedley II) and Elain Graham (Ruby).

Click above to hear the entire interview with Harvy Blanks and Charlie Hudson III.