Kenny Leon to Direct King James at Steppenwolf

Oct 28, 2021
Kenny Leon to direct King James

Steppenwolf Theatre announced Kenny Leon, acclaimed Tony and Obie Award-winning director will helm the world premiere production of King James by ensemble member Rajiv Joseph in the company's 2021/22 Comeback Season. Leon's lauded directing career spans stage and screen, including the 2014 revival of A Raisin in the Sun starring Denzel Washington (Tony Award for Best Direction and Best Revival) and most recently A Soldier's Play, which won the 2021 Tony Award for Best Revival. Co-commissioned and co-produced with Center Theatre Group, King James will have its world premiere in Steppenwolf's Downstairs Theater, March 3 - April 10, 2022. Opening is Sunday, March 13, 2022.

"King" LeBron James's reign in Cleveland brings promise, prosperity and renewal to a city in desperate need of all three. It also brings together two friends who communicate best when they are talking and arguing about sports. King James is an intimate exploration of the place that sports and athletes occupy in our emotional lives and relationships. It explores the star player's impact on Cleveland, from his rookie season to the city's historic championship, and the lives of these two unlikely friends whose turbulent relationship is best navigated through their shared love of the sport in a verbal game of one on one. Though he is never seen in the show, LeBron James serves as a symbol for the hopes, desires and fears that they have bottled up since childhood.

King James features newly appointed Artistic Director and ensemble member Glenn Davis alongside Chris Perfetti. Previously announced director Anna D. Shapiro will direct the Spring 2022 remount of Steppenwolf's production of The Minutes on Broadway, which she was directing when theaters were shutdown. King James will travel to the Center Theatre Group's Mark Taper Forum, June 1 through July 3, 2022; opening June 8, 2022.

Kenny Leon is a Tony and Obie Award-winning; Emmy-nominated; Broadway and Television director. Most recently, he directed Lifetime's Emmy-nominated "Robin Roberts Presents: Mahalia." Last year, he directed the Tony Award-winning Broadway premiere of Charles Fuller's Pulitzer Prize winning masterpiece, A Soldier's Play, for which he also received a nomination for Best Director. He also directed The Underlying Chris at Second Stage Theatre Company and the acclaimed production of Much Ado About Nothing at the Delacorte/Shakespeare in the Park. Broadway: A Soldier's Play; American Son; Children of a Lesser God; Holler If Ya Hear Me; A Raisin in the Sun (Tony Award; 2014); The Mountaintop; Stick Fly; August Wilson's Fences, Gem of the Ocean and Radio Golf. Off-Broadway: Everybody's Ruby, Emergence-See! (The Public), Smart People (Second Stage). Television: "American Son" (adapted for Netflix), "Hairspray Live!," "The Wiz Live!," "Steel Magnolias," "Dynasty," "In My Dreams." Author, Take You Wherever You Go. Artistic Director Emeritus, Kenny Leon's True Colors Theatre Company. Senior Resident Director, Roundabout Theatre Company.

King James is the new play from Cleveland native Rajiv Joseph who burst onto the American theatre scene with Pulitzer finalist Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, which had its world premiere at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in 2009 before being produced at the Taper and then on Broadway. Joseph's play Archduke had its world premiere at the Mark Taper Forum in 2017 as part of the Taper's 50th season. He has won the Obie Award for Best New American Play twice, in 2016 for Guards at the Taj (also a 2016 Lortel Winner for Best Play) and then in 2018 for Describe the Night. Joseph wrote the libretto for the opera Shalimar the Clown, based on the novel by Salman Rushdie. He was also the co-writer of the feature film "Draft Day" and wrote for two seasons on the Showtime series "Nurse Jackie." His other plays include The North Pool, Gruesome Playground Injuries, Animals Out of Paper and The Lake Effect. Joseph is a Steppenwolf ensemble member. Currently Joseph's Letters of Suresh is being performed at Second Stage in New York. His plays have been translated and produced worldwide.