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Kenny Leon-helmed ‘Children of a Lesser God’ will debut in Massachusetts

The ever-busy Kenny Leon on the set of NBC’s “Hairspray Live!” in November. Photo: RYON HORNE/RHORNE@AJC.COM

BY MELISSA RUGGIERI/AJC Music Scene

Kenny Leon’s latest project, a revival of Mark Medoff’s Tony-winning “Children of a Lesser God,” will open June 22 in Massachusetts.

Leon is directing the production, which stars Lauren Ridloff as Sarah Norman and Joshua Jackson as James Leeds. Others in the cast include John McGinty as Orin Dennis, Kecia Lewis as Mrs. Norman, Treshelle Edmond as Lydia and Stephen Spinella as Mr. Franklin.

“Children of a Lesser God” will play on the Fitzpatrick Main Stage at the Berkshire Theatre Group through July 22.

Atlanta-based Leon is hopeful the show will return to Broadway, which seems likely given the involvement of Broadway producer Hal Luftig.

The original 1979 play was turned into a 1986 movie that earned Marlee Matlin an Oscar for her portrayal of Sarah Norman, a young deaf woman who leans on Leeds, a speech therapist and her teacher, as he tries to persuade her to speak aloud.

One of the Tony-winning Leon’s previous Broadway projects, the 2014 Tupac Shakur-inspired musical “Holler if Ya Hear Me,” will be revived this fall through his True Colors Theatre Company.

Matthew Head, the Emmy-winning composer based in Atlanta, will handle music duties and, Leon said in a recent interview, a spoken-word segment provided by three Spelman College students will take place at the end of the show.

Leon also plans to return the Shakur song “Blasphemy,” to the show.

“We did it in previews (on Broadway), but it didn’t make the cut,” he said. “I miss it.”

The musical will play Sept. 12 through Oct. 8 at Southwest Arts Center. Tickets are on sale now starting at $20. Visit www.truecolorstheatre.org for more details.

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