April 26th, 2010
09:57 AM ET

Denzel tears down 'Fences' on Broadway

Just because Denzel Washington has two Oscars sitting somewhere in his house, it doesn't necessarily mean he can step onto a New York stage and deliver the goods. He has proven himself cinematically speaking, but this is live theater. You only get one take when the audience is sitting, watching and breathing a few feet away from you.

Broadway is adorned with big name Hollywood stars of late. It's a cyclical thing. Movie stars turn to Broadway for the work and quite possibly to legitimize their own acting skills.

But let's get back to Denzel. How is he in "Fences"? He is a force.

Yet if Mr. Washington commands presence and power in this production, you could credit the play - this one is all about the words and the way they are delivered. August Wilson's story about an African American family in the 1950s won the Pulitzer Prize for drama and also grabbed four Tony awards when it opened in 1987. But "Fences" couldn't stand on its own in 2010 if it were built on that legacy alone.

Does this revival match its original run and glory? That's for theater-goers to decide on April 26, opening night.

"Fences" centers around protagonist Troy Maxson, played by Washington. Troy is a hard working garbage collector raising his family in working-class Pittsburgh. He is faced with the limitations put upon him because of his race and events from his past. While Troy has tried to move beyond what has held him back, he is stuck collecting regrets. The things in his life that define him, may be exactly what he is trying to escape from. He is conflicted by his son's dream because he was unable to live his own. His responsibilities are a chip upon his shoulder.

In Act I the audience sees Troy happily married to Rose, played by Academy Award nominee Viola Davis. By Act II the audience is gasping at what transpires on stage. "Fences" is surprising - it shifts your expectations midway through. And while not everyone will relate to Troy Maxson's life completely, there are enough common threads about the human heart, life's disappointments and discarded dreams within these "Fences."


soundoff (28 Responses)
  1. David Emani

    I saw the play Sunday the 25th, and the cast was crisp in everyway. It highlights the genius of August, while revealing the depth of skill in Denzel and grace of Viola. Any man who is a Father must see this POWERFUL play. I am going again with my sons and brothers. I proud of you Denzel . . . "Nice Shoes"

    April 29, 2010 at 10:32 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Odie

    Wow, sure hope this will be still be playing when I go to NYC in Sept.

    April 27, 2010 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
  3. Carol

    It's almost embarrassing that CNN would publish this article/review (or whatever it was meant to be). The content and the writing are both just plain poor!

    April 27, 2010 at 6:21 am | Report abuse |
  4. imuststandup

    I remember reading this play in school. It was awesome! Didn't James Earl Jones play in the original production of this? Thats what I remember reading...

    April 26, 2010 at 8:20 pm | Report abuse |
  5. anviban

    Ha, ha, ha......SEE, now they have all the background information needed, so when the movie comes out, and Denzel plays the main character, they will have all the information to write the article CORRECTLY.............................. NOW YOU SEE how it works?

    April 26, 2010 at 7:48 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Lauren

    I was in this production as a young girl at the Alliance Theater (Atlanta, GA), under the direction of Kenny Leon. I remember being a student actress, and having struggles trying to juggle school and a blossoming career, but it was truly fulfilling. The experience is undescribeable! I enjoyed every moment. I wish I was able to be in New York to catch the production on Broadway. Hats off to the 2010 cast! Break a leg!

    April 26, 2010 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |
  7. mark atkins

    OMG!No offense to Ms Mineo or the CNN entertainment department,but this was really some shoddy,uninformed and lazy research that was done on one of the most revered and celebrated thespians of the 20/21 century.Denzel Washington is not only not a novice to the theater but he initially cut his acting teeth on very important,ground breaking and socially relevant stage projects.Did the reporter ever hear of a "A Soldier's Play",that was later turned into a movie with Denzel,how about "Malcolm X",also turned into a Denzel movie."Checkmates" and "Richard the II" were the 2 other plays that Mr. Washington performed during his tenure.
    Not trying to be condescending but to educate,as a former major,I was constantly drilled in the fundamentals of getting to know my subject and fleshing out the full background as much as possible.Ms. Mineo sounds as if she saw "Crimson Tide" and "Glory" and then began penning her story.
    Hope this critique was helpful for the future Ms. Mineo.

    April 26, 2010 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Victor

    Ms. Mineo obviously did not do her research.

    Denzel is a veteran stage actor and is very good at what he does.

    CNN should really hire better reporters.

    April 26, 2010 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
  9. t

    umm... Denzel started out in theater and was a member of the prestigiuos Royal Shakespear Theater. Who wrote this article and why in the world didn't he/she research first??? OF COURSE he is an amazing actor on stage. Duh!!!

    April 26, 2010 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Terri

    If the play is done anything like the Broadway production of "Julius Ceasar", Mr. Washington will come out after the play and sign playbills. That was an unexpected treat.

    April 26, 2010 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  11. yanor

    WOW! How great....I hope it get to see the play.

    April 26, 2010 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Debi

    I would give anything for a chance to see Denzel in Fences, my all time favorite August Wilson play. Anybody got an extra plane ticket and a place for me to stay in NY and a show ticket? And while you're at it, how about a press pass for backstage so I can interview Mr. Washington for the folks in California? Believe me, no better choice has ever been made for the role of Troy Maxson.

    April 26, 2010 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Ann

    What about Chris Chalk as the son? I heard he is pretty amazing!

    April 26, 2010 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jeff

    FYI, Mr. Washington was in the original cast of "A Soldier's Story", in the 1981 award winning Off-Broadway version.

    April 26, 2010 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Andrew

    Saw Fences at Rochester's Geva Theatre, starring Tony Todd, of Platoon and Candyman fame. It was an incredible, powerful and very moving play; just very well done. I'd love to see Denzel's rendition of Troy Maxson.

    April 26, 2010 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
  16. Willie Dynamite

    I was there on Saturday and the play was amazing! A must see for anyone that can make it to NYC anytime soon. If you see one play during your entire life this should be it!

    April 26, 2010 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
  17. Mariah

    I wish I could go! But, I have to say, I think it's about time Fences came to the big screen anyway *hint* *hint*

    April 26, 2010 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
  18. Puttintang

    Wow, how did the writer not know Denzel Washington is a veteran stage actor? I guess she was handed the assignment at the last minute and didn't know much about the subject. She did make me want to see the play though.

    April 26, 2010 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
  19. a

    thanks, i'm glad somebody said something about "a soldiers story' like he's a newbie, you know how we do in the US. I picked up on that, I thought it was me?

    April 26, 2010 at 11:10 am | Report abuse |
  20. gail.horton@usdoj.gov

    Check him out

    April 26, 2010 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
  21. Marlise

    Can anyone say "A Soldier's Story"? That started off as a play on Broadway. They need better research.

    April 26, 2010 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
  22. TONI

    are your crazy!denzel started his career on stage duh! so hell yeah he is great on stage!

    April 26, 2010 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |
  23. Cassandra

    I saw the play this weekend and it was EXCELLENT. Both Denzel and Viola were outstanding. This is a must see.

    April 26, 2010 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
  24. Charlotte

    Saw the play this weekend. It was EXCELLENT and the cast was brilliant!

    April 26, 2010 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
  25. Head Diva In Charge

    This sounds excellent – maybe worth a trip to the NYC.

    April 26, 2010 at 10:38 am | Report abuse |

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