Adrienne Kennedy's Ohio State Murders finishes its Broadway run at the James Earl Jones Theatre January 15. Starring six-time Tony winner Audra McDonald, the production began previews November 11, 2022, and opened December 8, with performances originally scheduled to continue through February 12. An early closing date was announced earlier this year. After closing, the production will have played 29 previews and 44 performances.
A landmark playwright and Obie winner, 91 year-old Kennedy made her long-awaited Broadway debut with the production. Ohio State Murders is one of the writer's four "Alexander Plays," all of which center around the character of writer Suzanne Alexander, a pseudo stand-in for Kennedy herself. In this entry, Suzanne is invited to give a lecture at her alma mater on the topic of the themes of violence in her writing. She explains their origins by sharing a painful and disturbing story from her time as a young student at the predominately white institution when an interracial relationship led to violence.
McDonald, who leads the cast as Suzanne Alexander, is joined by Bryce Pinkham as Robert Hampshire, Lizan Mitchell as Mrs. Tyler/Miss Dawson/Aunt Louise, Mister Fitzgerald as David Alexander/Val, and Abigail Stephenson as Iris Ann. Rounding out the company as understudies are Christian Pedersen, Gayle Samuels, Brett Diggs, and Brooke Gardner.
Tony winner Kenny Leon is at the helm for the work's Broadway bow, leading a creative team that includes scenic designer Beowulf Boritt, lighting designer Allen Lee Hughes, costume designer Dede Ayite, sound designer Justin Ellington, and projection designer Jeff Sugg. Wigs, hair, and make-up design are by J. Jared Janas, and original music is by Dwight Andrews. The production was cast by Caparelliotis Casting. Samantha Watson is production stage manager.
Kennedy's other works include Funnyhouse of a Negro (Obie Award), June and Jean in Concert (Obie Award), and Sleep Deprivation Chamber, co-authored with son Adam Kennedy (Obie Award). Ohio State Murders was commissioned by Cleveland's Great Lakes Theater Festival, where it premiered in 1992. Theatre for a New Audience staged its Off-Broadway premiere in 2007. McDonald previously starred in a Zoom reading of the work that streamed during the pandemic.
Ohio State Murders was produced on Broadway by Jeffrey Richards, Lincoln Center Theater, Rebecca Gold, Jayne Baron Sherman, and Hunter Arnold, along with Kevin Ryan/Lisa Alexander-Taylor, Marc David Levine, Sheryl Lee Ralph/Jeremy Lentz, Brad Blume, Robert Boyett, Irene Gandy, John Paterakis, Iris Smith, Willette and Manny S. Klausner, Kayla Greenspan, Franklin Theatrical Group, Marlene and Gary Cohen, William Parker Frisbie II, Ken and Rande Greiner/Alexander "Sandy" Marshall/Jame DeRoy, Jacob Soroken Porter, Concord Theatricals, John Gore Organization, James L. Nederlander, and The Shubert Organization.