Fences Opens

Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival presents August Wilson’s Fences

CENTER VALLEY, PA: July 14, 2022— August Wilson’s groundbreaking Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award- winning drama Fences opens at Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, the professional theatre on the campus of DeSales University. The show previews July 27 and 28, opens on July 29 and runs through August 7 on the Main Stage at the Labuda Center for the Performing Arts.

Set in 1950s Pittsburgh against the backdrop of a rapidly changing America, August Wilson’s Fences depicts the yearnings and struggles of the Maxson family. Troy Maxson, a former home run king of the Negro baseball leagues now supports his family as a garbage collector, and builds fences around a world he has battled his entire life. An epic work of stunning poetry by a Pennsylvania native, Fences has been hailed by critics as “a blockbuster piece of theater” and “the strongest, most passionate American dramatic writing since Tennessee Williams.” Fences is a timeless story and a true American classic.

Wilson’s award-winning drama will be helmed by veteran stage, film, and television actor Tony Todd. Mr. Todd returns following his one-man performance in last season’s August Wilson play How I Learned What I Learned. With an acting career spanning more than 30 years, Todd has an extensive list of credits in all genres. He has received accolades for numerous roles on stage including a coveted Helen Hayes Award for his performance in Athol Fugard’s The Captain’s Tiger at La Jolla Playhouse, Manhattan Theatre Club, and The Kennedy Center; and originating the title role in the world premiere of August Wilson’s King Hedley II in Pittsburgh, Boston, and Seattle. His additional stage credits include Zooman & the Sign, Playboy of the West Indies, Les Blancs, Othello, Aida on Broadway, and many others, including Troy Maxson in Fences at the Geva Theatre Center.

His films include Oliver Stone’s Academy Award-winning PlatoonLean On Me with Morgan Freeman; Clint Eastwood’s Bird; and the voice of the Fallen in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, among many others. The charismatic six-foot-five actor is perhaps best known for his chilling performances in horror and sci-fi films including the title role in the Candyman franchise, as well as the Hatchet and Final Destination franchise hits, along with Night of the Living DeadThe Crow, and The Rock.

Todd will be joined by stage, television, and film actress Ella Joyce who will play the role of  Rose, Troy’s wife. Joyce’s stage career has earned her numerous awards and nominations. Select credits include: the Goodman Theatre, Having Our Say by Emily Mann, earning a Black Theater Alliance Nomination; August Wilson’s King Hedley II at The Matrix, earning a Los Angeles Ovation Award and a LA Drama Critics Circle Nomination; Tonya in the original production of King Hedley II at O’Reilly Pittsburgh Public Theater (starring alongside Mr. Todd); Two Trains Running on tour, premiering at Yale Rep; and originating the role of Lily Ann Green in Lynn Nottage’s Crumbs From the Table of Joy at Second Stage Theater, South Coast Rep, and Goodman Theatre, earning her a Jefferson Award and Black Theater Alliance Award. She is perhaps best known for her role as Eleanor on the sitcom Roc, which earned her an NAACP Nomination; as well as several other television shows including My Wife and Kids, Seinfeld, Eve, and The Jamie Foxx Show, among others.

The production will be directed by Ryan Quinn, who is a co-founder and artistic director of Esperance Theater Company in New York City. His directing credits there include Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, Youth and Ambition, and Breitwisch Farm. Quinn received his MFA at the Yale School of Drama. Select directing credits include The Mountaintop at Arc Stages; Dad’s Season Tickets, The Lost Girl and So Thrive My Soul at Milwaukee Rep; and The Tempest, Macbeth, and The Two Noble Kinsmen at Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival. As an actor, Quinn recently appeared Off-Broadway as John Proctor in Bedlam’s critically acclaimed production of The Crucible. Additional Off-Broadway credits include Sense and Sensibility at A.R.T.; King Lear and Hamlet at Theatre for a New Audience; Whorl Inside a Loop at Second Stage, and many more.

Also joining the cast are Brian D. Coats as Gabriel, Troy’s brother; and Shane Taylor as Jim Bono, Troy’s friend.

Coats’ extensive Broadway credits include The Merry Wives of Windsor and The Two Gentlemen of Verona at The Public Theater; On the Levee at Lincoln Center Theater/LCT3; and La Ruta at Working Theater. Regional performances include Cincinnati Playhouse, Old Globe, Arena Stage, Seattle Rep, Pittsburgh Public, Denver Center for the Performing Arts, and Williamstown Theatre Festival, to name a few. Among some of his television credits are Blue Bloods, Law & Order, The Sopranos, and Boardwalk Empire.

Taylor has performed Off-Broadway in such productions as Knives in Hens at The Shop Theater; the 50th Anniversary production of In White America at New Federal/Castillo Theatre; and Romeo and Juliet for the Lincoln Center Institute. Select regional credits include performances at Orlando Shakespeare Theater, Milwaukee Rep, Berkshire Theatre Festival, and Williamstown Theatre Festival. He has also received a Best International Actor Award at the Barbados National Film Festival for his roles in God’s Forgotten House and Sarbane’s Oxley.

Portraying the Maxson children are PSF alum Brandon Edward Burton as Lyons, Troy’s oldest son from a previous marriage; Tyler Fauntleroy as Cory, Troy and Rose’s son; and local actor and Allentown Civic Theatre student Ilan Annum will play Raynell, Troy’s daughter.

Burton, a Yale School of Drama graduate, has performed and collaborated regionally with many theatres, including Baltimore Center Stage, The Public Theater, Shakespeare & Co., and Theatre of the Oppressed NYC. ­­­­­­­­­­­­At Yale, he was the recipient of the Herschel Williams Prize for outstanding acting ability.

Fauntleroy’s credits include Off-Broadway’s Tambo and Bones at Playwrights Horizons and Looking for Leroy at New Federal Theatre. Select regional performances include Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, Folger Theatre, and People’s Light, to name a few. His television credits include Succession, FBI, and The Oath.

The 1950s Pittsburgh set, where the play takes place, was designed by Baron E. Pugh, with lighting designed by Aja M. Jackson. Kendra L. Johnson designed costumes, with Earon Chew Nealey as hair, wig, and makeup designer. Larry D. Fowler, Jr. is the sound designer. J. Alex Cordaro is the fight director. Erin Joy Swank will serve as stage manager of the production, with Chiara H. Johnson as assistant stage manager.

Amaranth Foundation is the Production Sponsor for August Wilson’s Fences.  The Production Co-Sponsor is Keenan Nagle Advertising. The Actor Sponsors are Lee & Dolly Butz.  Kathleen Kund Nolan & Timothy E. Nolan are the 2022 Season Sponsors. Associate Season Sponsors are Douglas Dykhouse, Linda Lapos and Paul Wirththe Szarko Family, and Harry C. Trexler Trust.