Directed by Debbie Allen
Drama Desk nominee Ray Fisher will put his gloves on again to play the role of heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali in Will Power’s “Fetch Clay, Make Man” June 18 through July 16 at the Kirk Douglas Theater in Culver City.
Directed by Golden Globe Award-winner Debbie Allen, the story follows the days leading up to one of Ali’s most anticipated fights (1965 against Sonny Liston) and the unlikely friendship he forms with Hollywood star Stepin Fetchit (born Lincoln Perry), played by Obie Award-winner Edwin Lee Gibson.
Center Theatre Group will work alongside The SpringHill Company’s Emmy Award-winning studio team, founded by LeBron James and Maverick Carter, to produce SpringHill’s first theatrical stage endeavor. Joining Ray Fisher and Edwin Lee Gibson are Wilkie Ferguson II as Ali’s devout and loyal right-hand Brother Rashid, Alexis Floyd as Ali’s passionate wife Sonji Clay, and Bruce Nozick as William Fox – a Hollywood mogul playing hardball with Stepin Fetchit.
“We have united an all-star team to tell this fresh story about an unlikely friendship between the great Muhammad Ali and Hollywood legend Stepin Fetchit,” said Tyrone Davis, associate artistic director with Center Theatre Group. “Having Ray Fisher return to his critically acclaimed performance as Ali, alongside Edwin Lee Gibson and a knock-out cast and stellar creative team is sure to hit audiences with a one-two punch of the nuanced relationship between these complex and dynamic figures and their individual struggles as two cultural icons navigating the societal issues of their era.”
With a rhythmic and enticing script by award-winning performer and playwright Will Power, “Fetch Clay, Make Man” explores the improbable bond that forms between two drastically different and immensely influential cultural icons. One a vibrant and audacious youth, the other a largely misunderstood and under-appreciated Hollywood star–each fighting to form their public personas and shape their legacies amidst the struggle of the Civil Rights Movement of the mid-1960s. The play is based on actual events.
“It’s extraordinary to see these characters come to life through Will Power’s creative and dynamic writing,” Allen said in making her Center Theatre Group directorial debut. “The play really paints a picture of the climate of Hollywood in the 1930s when Step was the highest paid Black actor of the time, and then in 1965 when heavyweight champion Ali prepared for his second bout with Sonny Liston and had to face the ramifications and tensions around declaring his embrace of the Nation of Islam in the wake of the Malcom X assassination. I’m really looking forward to the rehearsal process and exploring these complexities with the actors and creative team.”
Performances will run Tuesday through Friday at 8 p.m. and on Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m. Tickets are on sale and start at $30. They are available through CenterTheatreGroup.org, Audience Services at (213) 628-2772, or in person at the Center Theatre Group Box Offices (at the Ahmanson Theatre) located at The Music Center, 135 N. Grand Ave., Downtown L.A. Tickets are also available at the Kirk Douglas Theatre (open two hours prior to curtain) at 9820 Washington Blvd., in Culver City.