Already in previews, Center Theater Group’s Associate Artist Phylicia Rashad directs Pearl Cleage’s Blues for an Alabama Sky at the Mark Taper Forum, with opening night April 13th. Set in 1930’s Harlem, the cast includes Joe Holt, Nija Okoro, Dennis Pearson, Greg Alverez Reid and Kim Steele.
I had the opportunity to question Greg on some behind-the-scenes of Blues, as well as his history with his storied director.
Thank you for taking the time for this interview, Greg!
Thank you. I’m a subscriber to BroadwayWorldso this is exciting.
Prior to being cast in this Center Theater Group’s production of Blues for an Alabama Sky, were you familiar with any of Pearl Cleage’s work?
Yes, I was first introduced to her work when I was a theater student at Howard University where she is also an alumnus. Blues for An Alabama Sky and Flying West were the first two plays I read of hers.
This is not your first time being directed by Philicia Rashad. What directorial gems did you receive from her in the 2013 Long Wharf Theater production of Fences?
Working with Philicia on Fences was life-changing for me. It was a co-production with Long Warf Theater and McCarter Theater Center, so we got to spend a great deal of time together working. One of my most treasured gems is “Move to the Center of Thought and put yourself in the Way of the Experience.”
Any non-acting words of wisdom from Ms. Rashad you adhere to to this day?
Actually, I apply the same aforementioned quote/idea to my life offstage as well.
Besides Mrs. Rashad, had you worked with any of the Blues for an Alabama Sky cast or creatives before?
I have worked with our assistant director David Blackwell and knew our dialect coach Damian D. Lewis prior to this, but this is my first time working with the rest of these amazing actors, designers and crew.
What would your three-line pitch of Blues for an Alabama Sky be?
Hot Harlem days, steamy Alabama nights. We play hard and love even harder. It’s just New York City!
You’ve performed in theaters all across the US With only your rehearsal period in this your Los Angeles debut, have you yet formed any opinions on comparing Los Angeles theater with other theater communities you’ve worked?
Not quite yet. I have seen two other CTG shows since I’ve been here, Alma at the Kirk Douglas Theater and Lehman Trilogy at The Ahmanson Theater and I enjoyed them both and will say that I am inspired by how many people actually come out to see the theater in LA
If you were to submit your character Guy Jacobs on an online dating site, what qualities of his would you list?
Fiercely loyal and stylish. Bilingual. Big Daddy looking to sail the world popping champagne and following our dreams!
What flaws of Guy would you definitely omit?
Always jealous and will slice a fool six ways ’til Sunday!
Any specific feelings you would like the Mark Taper audiences to leave with after your curtain call?
I hope they can really feel and see themselves and their friends and family in this story. There is such beauty and richness in African American experiences. But dreams, hope and love should be a commonality we all share.
What’s in the near future for Greg Alverez Reid?
Only time will tell! But I’m definitely looking forward to hopefully more projects here on the West Coast. And I love The Piano Lesson by August Wilson. It’s coming to Broadway in the fall… so got my eyes on that one. Always dream big!
Thank you again, Greg! I look forward to meeting your Guy.
Thank you, it’s been a pleasure. Au Revoir!
For tickets to the live performances of Blues for an Alabama Sky through May 8, 2022; log onto CenterTheatreGroup.org