The FSU/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training continues its 2022-23 season with Lydia Diamond’s Stick Fly. Former Conservatory graduate Marcus Denard Johnson returns to direct the play, which runs Jan. 3-22 in the Cook Theatre at the FSU Center for the Performing Arts, with preview performances Jan. 3-5.
This winner of the Black Theatre Alliance Award for Best Play, Stick Fly ran on Broadway in 2011-2012 and chronicles a weekend in the life of an affluent African American family. The tensions ride high as the Levay brothers bring their respective fiancées home to meet the parents. Family secrets, childhood demons and romantic entanglements are revealed, leading to collisions over race, class, and privilege. Gender roles and generational dynamics further ignite this explosive tragic comedy.
“Stick Fly is a masterfully written ensemble play, where each role is a leading role,” said Conservatory Director Andrei Malaev-Babel. “It provides rich material for our actors, and the entire cast and creative team honor this story in a way that will allow our audiences to connect with the Levay family on a deeply personal level. Helming this production is FSU/Asolo Conservatory graduate Marcus Denard Johnson, a visionary director who has established a welcome presence on the New York theatre scene during the past decade. Marcus is a sensitive artist, whose complete confidence in his own art leads him to respect the actor’s process and to value collaboration. We are thrilled to have him back at the Conservatory, and we hope for many more happy returns!”
Johnson is an actor, director and theatre educator who received a Bachelor of Arts degree in theatre from Morehouse College in Atlanta before earning his MFA in acting from the Conservatory. After graduating in 2008, he moved to New York City and found an artistic home with Titan Theatre Company, where he became a resident company member and artistic associate. He also served as the director of programs for Opening Act, a non-profit dedicated to providing free theatre education to local schools. In 2022, Johnson was named co-artistic director of Hope Repertory Theatre in Holland, MI, where he won a Wilde Award for Best Direction of a Musical (The Color Purple). He is currently an assistant professor of theatre at Columbus State University, where he teaches the core acting courses for the Bachelor of Arts degree.
“I am grateful that I was invited back by my alma mater to direct this play, at this time, with these actors,” said Johnson. “Ultimately, Stick Fly is a play about love and family that explores themes of race and privilege through the lens of class and status. My wish is that this exploration will allow us all to examine our motivations and think more deeply about our impact on people, how we navigate through the world, and how we embody love.”
The cast of Stick Fly is comprised of second-year Conservatory students Trezure Coles (Cheryl), Rebecca Rose Mims (Taylor), Danielle Vivcharenko (Kimber), Rueben Wakefield (Dad) and Rickey Watson, Jr. (Kent) and first-year student Ibukun Omotowa (Flip). First-year students make up the crew.
The creative team includes Production Manager/Lighting Designer Chris McVicker, Production Stage Manager Savannah Rae Heslep; Costume Designer April Andrew Carswell, Scenic Designer Jeffrey Weber, Sound Designer Alex Pinchin, Voice & Dialect Coach Patricia Delorey, Movement Coach Eliza Ladd, Intimacy Director Brooke Turner and Text Work Coach DeAnna S Wright.
Stick Fly plays Jan. 3-22 in the Cook Theatre at the FSU Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets are $35 and are available online at asolorep.org/conservatory/season, by phone at 941.351.8000 or in person at the Asolo Rep Box Office at 5555 N. Tamiami Trail in Sarasota. Student prices are also available. The performances Jan. 3-5 are previews and are $25.
About the FSU/Asolo Conservatory
The FSU/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training is a celebrated three-year graduate program culminating in a Master of Fine Arts degree. For more than 45 years, tens of thousands of actors from across the continent have auditioned for admission. A maximum of 12 students are admitted each year. In their second year, the students perform in the Cook Theatre, a 161-seat space designed to create an intimate experience for the audience and actors. Third-year students are seen on the Mertz Theatre stage working with Asolo Repertory Theatre’s professional actors in exciting and significant roles.
For more information, visit asolorep.org/conservatory.