By Lolita Chakrabarti
Directed by Peter DeLaurier
September 7 - October 15, 2017
London, 1833. There are riots on the streets protesting the Slavery Abolition Act. Inside the Theatre Royal, tragic actor Ira Aldridge is making history. Fresh from dazzling success in the capitals of Europe, he is about to become the first African American actor to play Othello in London, where the play was created. The conflict inside the theater mirrors that on stage and outside: what price will artists pay for their audacity?
Red Velvet poster art: The Captive Slave by John Philip Simpson (1827) featuring Ira Aldridge, actor and model. Courtesy of the Art Institute of Chicago / Art Resource, NY.
David Bardeen as Terence / Bernard Warde • Damon Bonetti as Pierre LaPorte • Liz Filios as Halina Wozniak / Betty Lovell / Margaret Aldridge • Adam Hammet as Charles Kean • Forrest McClendon as Ira Aldridge • David Pica as Casimir / Henry Forester • Ebony Pullum as Connie • Lauren Sowa as Ellen Tree
The Creative Team
Meghan Jones, Scenic Designer • Janus Stefanowicz, Costume Designer • Lily Fossner, Lighting Designer • Christopher Colucci, Sound Designer • Janice Orlandi, Movement Consultant • Leonard Kelly, Dialect Coach • Christie Kelly, Wig Designer • Rebecca Smith, Stage Manager
News & Reviews
Forrest McClendon stars in Red Velvet: The Philadelphia Tribune talks with Tony Award nominee Forrest McClendon about Ira Aldridge, his favorite roles, and more. more
"A provocative and entertaining drama about race and theater... The success of this fine production rests on the elegant shoulders of Forrest McClendon, whose Aldridge is volatile and passionate, and whose performance is a virtuosic demonstration of acting styles and accents." –The Philadelphia Inquirer more
"Timely... Historical play, right for today." –Broad Street Review more
"Director Peter DeLaurier wrestles with [the play's] issues athletically, staging the powerful standoffs and quiet venomous implications with equal passion. Tony nominee Forrest McClendon leads a distinctly strong cast..." –DC Metro Theater Arts more
"Skillfully written... skillfully staged... exceptional." –Beyond My Backyard more
"Forrest McClendon is resplendent as Ira Aldridge. This play not only makes the audience aware of yet another famous African American ignored by history books, but it also shows us some regrettable social injustices of the past. Peter DeLaurier's masterful direction just might be a key to using the arts as a guide to correcting social injustices of the present." –Delco Culture Vultures
"Keep your eyes on McClendon... He's not just a good, even great actor – he's a fascinating and continually surprising one. He manages to simultaneously suggest a historical character and a modern one, which underscores Red Velvet's ultimate, crushing point – more than 150 years after Aldridge, our theater is still grappling – often unsuccessfully – with racial politics and casting." –Philadelphia Magazine
Header Photo: Lawrence Stallings in the world premiere of Me and the Devil (2021); Anthony Lawton and Dave Johnson in Travesties (2022); Melissa Rakiro and Joanna Liao in Twelfth Night (2023); and Paul L. Nolan, Sally Mercer, and Charles McMahon in Copenhagen (2018). Photos by Mark Garvin.
Lantern Theater Company acknowledges that it is situated on Lenapehoking, the ancestral and spiritual homeland of the Unami Lenape, and we pay respect to them as this region's original storytellers.