Dec 15, 2013
06:13 AMArts & Entertainment
Avon Native in Cast of Terrific "Fences" at Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven
Jared McNeill saunters onto the Claire Tow Stage in the C. Newton Schenck III Theatre at the Long Wharf Theatre suavely dressed in oxford’s and a fedora as his character, Lyons, in the theatre’s production of “Fences” by August Wilson.
“He’s a jazz brother, a hip cat of the 1950s,” McNeill said with a laugh.
In the production, directed by American Tony Award-winning actress, singer and stage director Phylicia Rashad, Lyons is the jazz musician son of the main character, Troy, from a previous marriage.
“He’s embodying a different energy of the 1950s than the other characters on stage,” said McNeill, which poses a challenge to the actor and excites him for every performance.
“Fences,” the story of a middle-aged black man struggling to provide for his family as a trash collector in 1950s Pittsburgh, premiered at the Long Wharf Theatre on Nov. 27 and will run till Dec. 22. (Above, T. Charles Erickson. Phil McGlaston, Esau Pritchett, Portia, G Alvarez Reid, Jared McNeill in The Long Wharf Theatre's production of "Fences.")
This is not the first time the New York City resident has taken part in a production of “Fences.” In 2009 he played the younger brother Cory at Geva Theatre in Rochester, NY. McNeill believes his history with the play helped during his auditioned for Rashad’s rendition. He asked to be considered for the part of Lyons.
“[Rashad] wanted to put together a cast of working actors,” McNeill said; something he believes she didn’t have to do. “I’m sure she had the option of scrolling through her phone.”
Instead she opened the auditions to everyone, casting a wide net. For McNeill, working with Rashad has been a great experience.
“Obviously the first day [was] terrifying, wondering what could you possibly expect of me?” recalled McNeill. “She’s very warm and giving. Even the way she speaks because she has actor’s background...she’s able to speak to very specific things you could be feeling. She sees what you’re giving, what you bring...It’s an organic way to work.”
In his opinion, the opening performance went really well.