LeBron Fandom and the Creation of a Friendship in "King James"

This is Leon’s first time directing the Steppenwolf Theatre. When contacted last October, Leon, a Tony-winning director whose last Broad...


This is Leon’s first time directing the Steppenwolf Theatre. When contacted last October, Leon, a Tony-winning director whose last Broadway production was “A Soldier’s Game” in 2020, already had around half a dozen projects underway, including upcoming Broadway productions of “The Ohio State Murders” by Adrienne Kennedy, starring Audra McDonald, and a the comeback from “Ain’t Supposed to Die a Natural Death”, the 1971 musical by Melvin Van Peebles. (Leon, 66, also runs the Atlanta-based True Colors Theater Company.)

But he said he jumped at the chance to oversee production after its former manager, Anna D. Shapiro, stepped down as artistic director of Steppenwolf in August. (Davis and Audrey Francis, both members of the Steppenwolf ensemble, replaced Shapiro as art director.)

“You don’t get a lot of opportunities to work with a living playwright on a new play that you think is beautiful and will have a great life,” Leon said as he enjoyed a cocktail after a rehearsal at the end of the month. last. “The last time was when I worked with August Wilson on his last play, ‘Radio Golf,’ before the Broadway production [which opened in 2007].”

The value of having Joseph in the room for rehearsals, Leon said, was that if he didn’t understand a character’s motivations for doing something, he could ask.

“A lot of Rajiv reminds me of August,” Leon said. “I can tell him how I feel. Even if I hate it for a moment, he can accept that and walk down the hall and rewrite it.

And there were a lot of tweaks and tweaks and kinks to the script in the month leading up to the first performance. It was especially helpful, Joseph said, to have Perfetti’s perspective as an NBA outsider in a room with deep insider credentials. (The Cavaliers owner’s use of the Comic Sans font in his letter to Cleveland fans after James’ departure, in which he lambasted James for his “disloyalty”, gets a shout-out.)

“There are a lot of lines in the room where he was like, ‘Why am I saying that? ‘” Joseph said of Perfetti. “And some of those lines got cut because of that.”

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