Ruben Santiago-Hudson Brings ‘Lackawanna Blues’ to Broadway

About six months in the past, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, the creator of the play “Lackawanna Blues,” requested a good friend to open a vacant theater for him.

“I just needed that — to sit in the seats, to walk on the stage,” Santiago-Hudson mentioned in an interview this week. “For the past 50 or so years, I’ve had some time every year in the theater: to see a play, to be in a play, to direct a play, to write a play. All of a sudden that was taken away.”

On Tuesday, Santiago-Hudson obtained to return to theater in an enormous manner: “Lackawanna Blues” — which he wrote and directed, and through which he performs each half — started previews on Broadway, in a Manhattan Theater Club manufacturing on the Samuel J. Friedman Theater on West 47th Street.

The play, which was first offered Off Broadway in 2001, and tailored right into a tv film in 2005, is a memory of Santiago-Hudson’s youth close to Buffalo, and is centered on the character of Nanny, who ran a boardinghouse and imparted power and morality to generations round her.

At a ribbon ceremony outdoors the theater on West 47th Street, the place ticketholders and gawkers dodged rush-hour site visitors, Representative Carolyn Maloney supplied an unabashed New Yorker’s protection of Broadway. “What would New York be without Broadway?” she requested. “Seriously, it’s what makes the city feel so great. If we didn’t have Broadway we might as well be in Chicago or some other big city.”

S. Epatha Merkerson, who performed Nanny within the tv film of “Lackawanna Blues” (and was a longtime fixture on “Law & Order”), was readily available for the preshow festivities.

“We’re baaaack!” she mentioned, referring to Broadway.

A Broadway manufacturing of “Lackawanna Blues” by Manhattan Theater Club had been deliberate for a few years. Lynne Meadow, the corporate’s longtime inventive director, mentioned in an interview she noticed it as a celebration of “heroism,” which she mentioned is much more apt now. The play was offered with music by Bill Sims Jr., as carried out by the blues guitarist Junior Mack.

“This is a play about healing,” Santiago-Hudson mentioned. “This is a play about community, about how we help each other, about what generosity means. This is what we need.”