Slave Play: Who Plays Whom? Where Are the Actors Now?

HBO’s documentary film ‘Slave Play. Not a Movie. A Play.’ opens a window into the creative process of Jeremy O. Harris, the playwright who wrote ‘Slave Play.’ The three-act play received twelve nominations at the 74th Tony Awards, only to become the non-musical play with the most nominations at the time. The principal cast of the play included eight artists who portrayed the characters Kaneisha, Jim, Phillip, Alana, Dustin, Gary, Teá, and Patricia. Many of the members of the drama’s Broadway cast feature in the documentary, answering Jeremy’s query about the intention/significance behind the project. A few years after the play’s inception, most of these cast members have been establishing themselves as noteworthy artists!

Antoinette Crowe-Legacy (Kaneisha) is Filming Godfather of Harlem Season 4

Antoinette Crowe-Legacy became a part of ‘Slave Play’ when Jeremy O. Harris developed the work while he was attending the Yale School of Drama in New Haven, Connecticut. However, when the play debuted Off-Broadway in 2018, the character was portrayed by Teyonah Parris. Joaquina Kalukango replaced Parris for its 2019 Broadway run at the John Golden Theatre. In 2021, Antoinette replaced Kalukango for the play’s Broadway remount at the August Wilson Theatre. The actress also reprised the character when the drama was transferred to the Center Theatre Group’s Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles in 2022.

Since rejoining the cast of ‘Slave Play’ in 2021, Antoinette has been involved in several projects. The actress made her feature film debut with Rebecca Hall’s mystery drama ‘Passing,’ an adaptation of Nella Larsen’s novel of the same name, by portraying Felise. She also appears in two episodes of Apple TV+’s biographical drama series ‘WeCrashed’ as Lesley. In 2023, Antoinette portrayed Sassy in Tori Sampson’s ‘This Land Was Made,’ which opened at the Vineyard Theatre in New York under the direction of Taylor Reynolds. The same year, she played Hermione in Tamilla Woodard’s adaptation of William Shakespeare’s ‘The Winter’s Tale’ at the Folger Theatre in Washington, DC.

“Something I really enjoy about Shakespeare is how we can reinvent it. In the rehearsal room, I’m making up Hermione’s backstory. We’re weaving stories together with the text as the basis, but the relationships we’re building between characters are specific to us as actors,” Antoinette told DC Theater Arts about being a part of the production. She is currently involved in the shooting of the fourth season of MGM+’s crime series ‘Godfather of Harlem,’ in which she has been playing Elise Johnson since 2019.

Paul Alexander Nolan (Jim) Remains a Broadway Star

Paul Alexander Nolan has been a part of ‘Slave Play’ since its original Off-Broadway run in 2018. He portrayed the character in all four runs of the show, which includes a Broadway stint and a Broadway remount production. Since the debut of ‘Slave Play,’ the actor has been featured in several acclaimed and popular dramas, starting with Asolo Repertory Theatre’s ‘Knoxville,’ a musical adaptation of James Agee’s autobiographical novel ‘A Death in the Family,’ in which he played Jay Follett. He led the cast of Britta Johnson’s ‘Life After’ at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago, replacing Bradley Dean, who portrayed Frank Carter during the drama’s run at The Old Globe Theatre in San Diego.

Nolan played Hugh Dorsey in the 2023 Broadway revival of Alfred Uhry and Jason Robert Brown’s musical ‘Parade.’ The production received two Tony Awards in 2023, including the Best Revival of a Musical. Nolan’s most recent work is ‘Water for Elephants,’ the musical adaptation of Sara Gruen’s historical romance novel of the same name. The production received seven nominations at the 2024 Tony Awards, which also featured a performance by Nolan and his fellow ‘Water for Elephants’ cast members. “A lot of times, playing villains can be fun, and August isn’t always that fun because he’s a pretty cruel man—especially to animals,” the actor told Broadway about portraying August Rackinger in the musical.

Nolan is an unignorable presence in events such as Northern Exposure, which is regarded as Broadway’s “biggest stars showcase.” He is married to actress Keely Hutton, whose credits include the Citytv series ‘Hudson & Rex.’

Jonathan Higginbotham (Phillip) Has Become a TV Star

Like Antoinette Crowe-Legacy, Jonathan Higginbotham also became an official part of ‘Slave Play’ for the drama’s Broadway remount in 2021 after attending Jeremy’s alma mater, Yale School of Drama. He replaced Sullivan Jones, who played Phillip during the play’s Off-Broadway and Broadway runs in 2018 and 2019, respectively. Higginbotham has been a notable presence in television since 2021. He made his debut by portraying Keith in Netflix’s ‘Bonding.’ The actor also appears as Raf in NBC’s crime series ‘The Blacklist’ and Frank in Starz’s fantasy horror series ‘Shining Vale,’ starring Courteney Cox.

Image Credit: Peter Kramer/AMC

Higginbotham had his breakthrough performance as Tommaso in AMC’s post-apocalyptic series ‘The Walking Dead: Dead City,’ which features the iconic ‘The Walking Dead’ characters Negan Smith and Maggie Rhee. Even though he is a significant part of the show’s first season, the actor is not expected to feature in its upcoming second installment following his character’s death. He most recently completed the shooting of Cyrus Duff’s ‘The Philosophy of Dress,’ which is headlined by Sydney Lemmon and Romy Reiner.

As of 2022, Higginbotham was dating Louisa Jacobson, one of the four children of legendary actress Meryl Streep. The couple was living in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood at the time. Louisa, who is known for her performance as Marian Brook in HBO’s ‘The Gilded Age,’ also attended the Yale School of Drama.

Annie McNamara (Alana) is Rehearsing Slave Play for the West End Run

Annie McNamara played Alana in the first three runs of ‘Slave Play.’ Since the Off-Broadway debut of the play, the actress has been a part of several popular TV shows. She plays Sue Gillan in two episodes of the acclaimed Netflix series ‘Orange Is the New Black.’ She was also a part of the cast of CBS All Access/Paramount+’s ‘The Good Fight’ as Vanessa McFinley. Annie’s notable credits also include Danise in Apple TV+’s science fiction series ‘Severance’ and Marie Shorter in the comedy-drama series ‘Hello Tomorrow!’ She also portrayed Denise in ‘Three Birthdays,’ starring Josh Radnor.

Annie is currently preparing to play Alana in ‘Slave Play’ at the Noël Coward Theatre in London’s West End. The production is currently scheduled to begin on June 29, 2024, and conclude on September 21, 2024. She will perform alongside Fisayo Akinade, Denzel Washington’s daughter Olivia Washington, Aaron Heffernan, and ‘Game of Thrones’ fame Kit Harington. “When you realize you’ve signed on for THAT play everyone’s been talking about,” she shared about being a part of the drama’s new production. The actress is also involved in the activities of She-Collective, a drama school based in New York, as a guest artist/instructor.

Devin Kawaoka (Dustin) is Focused on His TV Career

Devin Kawaoka made his stage debut with ‘Slave Play,’ replacing James Cusati-Moyer, who played Dustin in the Off-Broadway and Broadway runs of the drama. By then, he had made his television debut by playing Kal Montgomery in CBS’ procedural series ‘Criminal Minds.’ After the Broadway remount production of Jeremy’s acclaimed play, Kawaoka joined the cast of NBC’s medical series ‘Chicago Med,’ in which he continues to play Kai Tanaka-Reed. Since the show was renewed for a tenth season earlier this year, we can expect the actor to continue playing the surgeon.

Kawaoka also plays Charlie in Apple TV+’s comedy-drama series ‘Shrinking,’ starring Harrison Ford and Jason Segel. The second season of the show is expected to be one of Kawaoka’s upcoming projects. His recent credits also include Fox/Netflix’s fantasy series ‘Lucifer’ and Prime Video’s ‘Goliath.’ Kawaoka will not be reprising Dustin in the West End production of ‘Slave Play,’ possibly due to his television commitments. He is replaced by original cast member Cusati-Moyer. The actor is a private person when it comes to his personal life and relationships.

Ato Blankson-Wood (Gary) Continues to Deliver Acclaimed Performances on Stage

Ato Blankson-Wood’s performance as ‘Gary’ earned the actor a Tony Award nomination for Best Featured Actor in a Play. He played the character in the first three runs of the drama. Soon after making a mark with his work in ‘Slave Play,’ he was cast in Hulu’s musical pilot ‘History of a Pleasure Seeker,’ which was eventually scrapped by the streaming platform. In 2023, he made his directorial debut with Oklahoma City Repertory Theatre’s ‘The Brothers Size,’ which was written by Tarell Alvin McCraney, who won an Academy Award for co-writing ‘Moonlight’ based on his play.

Ato has been a part of several high-profile productions since ‘Slave Play.’ He played Edmund in Minetta Lane Theatre’s production of Eugene O’Neill’s ‘Long Day’s Journey Into Night,’ starring Elizabeth Marvel and Bill Camp. He received acclaim for his performance as the titular character in Kenny Leon-directed ‘Hamlet,’ which was staged at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. His most recent credit is Cliff in ‘Cabaret’ on Broadway, starring Eddie Redmayne. “Clifford’s from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. And so, I was like, what would it be like to have grown up in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, around that time?” the actor told Playbill about his performance.

Chalia La Tour (Teá) is in London for Slave Play

Chalia La Tour is one of the three cast members of ‘Slave Play’ who were a part of the drama’s all four runs. She was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play for her performance as Teá. The actress was also a part of the cast of ‘The Year Between,’ starring Steve Buscemi and J. Smith-Cameron. She is featured in ‘Mother Melancholia,’ a dance movie directed by Samantha Shay, which premiered at Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch Terrain Boris Charmatz in Germany. Chalia is currently rehearsing ‘Slave Play’ ahead of the play’s premiere in London’s West End.

Irene Sofia Lucio (Patricia) is Committed to Slave Play and Being a Mother

After playing Patricia in all four runs of ‘Slave Play,’ Irene Sofia Lucio became a part of the cast of ‘When Playwrights Kill,’ Matthew Lombardo’s play that was headlined by Jeremy Jordan and Harriet Harris. In 2023, she wrote a Spanish series titled ‘SúperEllas’ for Canela TV. It is described as a show for children about Latina trailblazers. The project won the Best Non-English Program – Family Programming [TV – National] at the 48th Annual Gracie Awards. Her other recent credits include Joy Behar’s ‘Bonkers in the Boroughs’ and Kristoffer Diaz’s ‘Rebecca Oaxaca Lays Down a Bunt.’

In April 2024, Irene gave birth to a baby boy named Hugo Antonio Márquez. She is married to Jorge Marquez San Martin. The actress is currently rehearsing ‘Slave Play’ for the drama’s West End run with James Cusati-Moyer, Chalia La Tour, and Annie McNamara. “Shoutout to families helping artists. When I got the call to do the West End, I talked to my husband and mom. Both immediately said, ‘We’re gonna make this work.’ My husband called it ‘an adventure.’ My mom said, ‘I will help you.’ So, she flew to London with me and has been helping me for weeks till Jorge gets here. So here’s to the people who make art happen,” Irene shared about the support she has been receiving from her family while portraying Patricia.

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