The credits for this production have not yet been completed or verified.

Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, (1/19/1978 - 2/26/1978)
Booth Theatre, (3/09/1978 - 4/30/1978)

First Preview: Jan 17, 1978
Opening Date: Jan 19, 1978
Closing Date: Apr 30, 1978
Total Previews: 3
Total Performances: 77

Category: Play, Solo, Play with music, Original, Broadway

Opening Night Production Staff

Theatre Owned / Operated by The Nederlander Organization

Produced by Don Gregory; Produced by arrangement with Carmen F. Zollo

A Production of An International Cinegraph / Creative Image

Written by Phillip Hayes Dean; Music arranged by Burt Wallace

Directed by Lloyd Richards; Original Staging By Charles Nelson Reilly

Scenic Design by H. R. Poindexter; Costume Design by Noel Taylor; Lighting Design by Ian Calderon

General Manager: Leonard A. Mulhern; Company Manager: L. Liberatore

Production Stage Manager: Phil Stein; Stage Manager: Louis Mascolo

Music Consultant: William Luce

Assistant to Mr. Reilly: Timothy Helgeson; Production Coordinator: Ed Gazich; Dialect Consultant: Nora Dunfee; General Press Representative: Seymour Krawitz; Press Representative: Patricia McLean Krawitz and Louise Weiner Ment; Choreographic Consultant: Jaime Rogers; Advertising: Weiner Associates; Photographer: Bert Andrews

Opening Night Cast

James Earl JonesPaul Robeson
Burt WallaceLawrence Brown

Awards and Nominations

Drama Desk Award

 1978 Outstanding Actor in a Play [nominee] 

James Earl Jones


New York Daily News: "Jones magnificent as Paul Robeson"

James Earl Jones, a commanding actor at all times, is at his finest in "Paul Robeson," a ... no, not one-man, but two-man show that opened last night at the Lunt-Fontanne. For where would Robeson be without his longtime accompanist Lawrence Brown, gently represented here by Burt Wallace at the piano.

The career was, as you all know, an astonishing one, vibrant with success, honors and fortitude until suffering opprobrium for his praise of Soviet Russia - the only white country, he somehow felt, where blacks were treated as equals - and ending in reclusiveness and death in Philadelphia.

In Philip Hayes Dean's "play," artfully staged by Lloyd Richards, we are at Carnegie Hall for a 75th birthday tribute at which Robeson is represented only by a bust and a taped recording, and designer H.R. Poindexter has recreated the gray, formal back wall of that auditorium. A grand piano and some chairs are the only objects on stage, and Jones wears a dinner jacket throughout, donning a few accessories along the way.

In tracing such a long varied and tumultuous life, teeming with friends and antagonists and crossing many national boundaries as well as many authorities, Jones is splendid. The facts have been altered a bit here and there...just how much, I don't know, but a Robeson-Jerome Kern "discussion" in which the singer is invited to appear in the London production of "Show Boat" takes no account of the fact that he was intended for "Ol Man River" and the Broadway production from the start.

Yes, Jones sings from time to time, snatches of this and that. Not in Robeson's rich, resonant voice, of course, but in resonant tones of his own that are perfectly acceptable substitutes in this context.

Whether singing, chatting with his accompanist, addressing his wife, father, beloved brother Reeves, President Truman and figures all over the world, Jones is always deeply involving.

The most touching episode is his brief but poignant association with a 12-year-old German girl, a dwarf named Maria Schumann, who played piano and to whom he told a charming fable about the tall (Robeson was very tall) and the short, and his subsequent vision of her death at the hands of the Nazis. The most dramatic one is his outburst in a Kansas City concert hall when he refused to sing to an audience without a single black face present.

Disclaiming any association with communism, he stated his credo as "scientific socialism" and opposition to fascism in any form.

A Rutgers Phi Beta Kappa and all-America end, a junior member of a prestigious law firm where his talents were used without being exposed because of his color, an actor in O'Neill's sensational black-white love drama "All God's Chillun Got Wings" and then in the road tour of "The Emperor Jones," an outstanding concert singer, an international figure, and finally a tragic recluse felled by an illness that first cut short his singing career in 1961 and then by neglect. That was the broad outline. He died last January at 76.

Jones' is a heroic and many-faceted performance. It began late and ran long, with one intermission, so that I was forced to leave before the end. I wish I could have stayed. There must have been cheering.

New York Daily News

View full site