The play paints a portrait of Paul Robeson, a lauded African American vocalist, actor, and Civil Rights activist who fell out of public favor due to his communist sympathies during the McCarthy Era. Robeson, an unapologetic Stalin supporter, was the 1952 recipient of the Stalin Peace Price. As a performer, Robeson is best known for portraying Joe in the original London production of Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein's Showboat, as well as the 1936 film adaptation of the classic musical. Excerpts from some of Robeson's signature songs, like "Ol' Man River" and "Steal Away" will be featured in the The Tallest Tree.
Tony nominee Moisés Kaufman (I Am My Own Wife, The Laramie Project) will direct the production, which is scheduled to run October 9-November 3. The Tallest Tree is produced in association with the Tectonic Theater Project.
The Tallest Tree joins La Jolla Playhouse's previously announced 2013/2014 lineup. The season will also include His Girl Friday, adapted by John Guare (House of Blue Leaves) from the Ben Hecht/Charles MacArthur play The Front Page and the Howard Hawks film His Girl Friday, which will run from May 28-June 30; Tribes by Nina Raine (Rabbit), running from June 25-July 24; Sideways by Rex Pickett, running from July 16-August 18; and a re-imagined production of the Tony Award-nominated musical Side Show, featuring music by Henry Krieger (Dreamgirls), book and lyrics by Bill Russell (Lucky Duck) and direction by Academy Award winner Bill Condon (Dreamgirls), produced in association with The Kennedy Center.
The final production of the 2013/2014 season will be announced at a later date.