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Bx actress lands role in award-winning new play

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Fresh from stints in HBO’s The Wire and the Sundance acclaimed film, How She Move, local Bronx actress, wife and mother, Melanie Nicholls-King has landed the role of a lifetime.

 

King, a Williamsbridge resident, is wowing audiences as part of a star-studded cast for the mainstage production the Diverse City Theater Company’s play, Noon Day Sun, winner of the Theaterfest Award for Best Play.  It is her second time taking part in the production. 

But Bronxites only have a short opportunity to see King in action.  The play, which began on Thursday, August 14, will enjoy a limited run at Theater Row’s The Beckett Theatre, located at 412 W. 42nd Street until Saturday, August 30. 

“This play profoundly explores and examines race, identity, and the universal resonance of ‘passing,” said Victor Lirio, founder of DCT.  “We are thrilled to present Noon Day Sun as our 2008 mainstage offering and a cast of stellar actors.”

Controversial in nature, the idea of passing refers to the idea of someone of one racial background identifying more strongly with another race, as in the case of the play, where the main character tries to pass as white.

“My character is passing in two ways,” said King of her role.  “She’s submerged her love for the Lord in order to be more pleasing to her man.  She also tries to hide her self-loathing due to the scars created by her family calling her ‘too dark’”

King, who stars alongside Helen Hayes Award winner Gin Hammond  (The Syringa Tree), Obie Award winner Ron Cephas Jones (The Last Days of Judas Iscariot), Michael McGlone (Brothers McMullen, The Kill Point), David Newer (Dinner with Friends) and Penelope Darcel, feels the fears expressed in the play are universal and have more than a racial theme attached. 

“Not thinking that we’re good enough as we are,” King explains, as to the underlying themes of the play that anyone can relate to.  “Looking at others and feeling less than because of something they have or who they are. Wanting so much to please others that we don’t allow ourselves to be fully who we are.”

King says the role resonates with what she deals with on an everyday basis as an actress, mother and wife. 

“Being in this business, I’m constantly being judged as right or not right for a role, and if I allow it to, I can make me unsure of myself,” she adds. “I’m a mother and a wife and society has judgments about how those two roles should look and because I am in a non-traditional business, it causes me to make choices sometimes that may conflict with being those two roles.”

Although set in the 50’s, King believes the true theme of identity and how many people are still trying to pass for something, regardless of what they are trying to achieve, by pretending to be something else, still resonates.  Of course, according to the Bronx actress, that could be all in one’s head. 

“What secrets are you keeping that are actually holding you prisoner inside your head,” King comments as to one question she would like those who view the play to ask themselves. 

For an introspective look at race, religion, and identity, go to www.diversecitytheater.org for information on Noon Day Sun, or go to www.ticketcentral.com for $18 tickets to the show. 

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