Atlanta Life and Culture

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Kenny Leon will return to Broadway for revival of 'Children of a Lesser God'

Kenny Leon will return to Broadway for the 2015-16 season to direct a revival of “Children of a Lesser God.”

The drama about a relationship between a deaf woman and a teacher at a school for the deaf was written by Mark Medoff and first landed on Broadway in 1980. It ran for more than two years and scored Tony Awards for best play, as well as best actor in a play for John Rubinstein and best actress in a play for the groundbreaking performing from Phyllis Frelich, a deaf actress on whom the story was loosely based.

“Children” was turned into a film in 1986 that starred William Hurt and Marlee Matlin, who won a best actress Oscar for her role as the young deaf woman Sarah Norman.

“I am so very excited to finally get the opportunity to direct the revival of this amazing property on Broadway. It's a universal story that explores the whole idea of togetherness, diversity and inclusion,” Leon said Monday night in an email to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “It's a wonderful and authentic love story. Mark Medoff is an incredible writer and he and I look forward to presenting this to the world 35 years later.”

The show will be produced by Hal Luftig, the Tony-winning producer of "Kinky Boots."

Luftig told the New York Times that he and Leon are "aiming to cast actors of various ethnicities, including, possibly, an African-American to play the lead character of Sarah."

The Atlanta-based Leon is no stranger to Broadway, having directed “The Mountaintop,” “Stick Fly” and revivals of “Fences” and “A Raisin in the Sun.”

His spring revival of “Raisin” starred Denzel Washington and earned Leon his first Tony Award (for best direction of a play) at the June ceremony.

Leon’s last visit to Broadway was an abbreviated one with the ambitious, but financially unsuccessful “Holler If Ya Hear Me,” a musical based on the catalog of rapper Tupac Shakur.

The show opened on June 19 and closed a month later.

Leon was most recently seen on the other side of the stage, starring with Phylicia Rashad this summer in "Same Time Next Year" at his True Colors Theatre in Atlanta.

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About the Author

Atlanta Journal-Constitution staff writer Melissa Ruggieri covers the Atlanta Music Scene and entertainment news for print and online.