Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Dule Hill, Daniel J. Watts to Star in LIGHTS OUT: NAT 'KING' COLE World Premiere at People's Light


Dule Hill, Daniel J. Watts to Star in LIGHTS OUT: NAT 'KING' COLE World Premiere at People's Light

Fear the Walking Dead star and Philadelphia native Colman Domingo partners with nationally-acclaimed theatre-maker Patricia McGregor to co-author Lights Out: Nat "King" Cole, a surprising and unsettling exploration of race and the American Dream. McGregor will also direct.

This powerhouse team imagines Cole reckoning with the demise of his televised variety show after it fails to attract a national sponsor. As he faces his final Christmastime broadcast, Cole weighs the advice of his friend Sammy Davis, Jr. to "go out with a bang," against his producer's wishes to say goodbye with grace.

Producing Director Zak Berkman says, "Although Colman and Patricia set this play in December 1957, the story they tell speaks as much to our post-Obama era as to the one Nat and Sammy experienced.

"In our current moment of national upheaval, it is vital to question our icons and longstanding myths. We need to create new kinds of monuments made of tough, honest reflection. Lights Out does just that. It entertains and elevates-it's infused with dance, hit songs, and holiday standards-but also invites the audience to encounter these American legends, and hear their music, in a provocative new way."

Performed on the People's Light intimate Steinbright Stage from October 11 - December 3, 2017, Lights Out will feature The West Wing and Psych alum Dulé Hill as Cole. Hamilton veteran and Broadway regular Daniel J. Watts portrays Sammy Davis, Jr. John McDaniel, best known as Rosie O'Donnell's music director throughout her highly successful talk-show, supervises the music.

All three of these artists, along with Berkman, participated in intensive development workshops of Lights Out that People's Light produced at The Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, and at New York Stage & Film on the campus of Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York.

Co-author Colman Domingo says, "We are beyond thrilled to collaborate with Dulé and Daniel, two of the most generous souls and dynamic performers working across entertainment platforms." Co-author and director McGregor adds, "It just makes complete sense to create with artists of this caliber who are equally passionate about music, dance, and social justice. They stand on the shoulders of the phenomenal Nat 'King' Cole, and will aid in this production's interrogation of art, heart, and the mind."

Hill and Watts head an impressive cast of artists, many of them new to People's Light. Gisela Adisa (Eartha Kitt/Natalie Cole), Marc D. Donovan (Producer), Rachael Duddy (Betty Hutton/Peggy Lee), Dayshawn Jacobs (Billy/Young Nat), Zonya Love (Perlina), and Jo Twiss (Candy) all make their People's Light debut. Owen Pelesh, previously seen in Malvern in The Three Musketeers: The Later Years, plays the Stage Manager. Music Director Ryan Slatko leads a quartet of musicians. Frequent guest artist Jason Pizzi (Surviving Twin, The Road) stage manages the production.

This production has been supported by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage. Production sponsors include PNC Arts Alive! and PECO.



People's Light will expand our AfterWORDS program for Lights Out. Join the cast for informal Q&As after Tuesday evening performances (10/24, 11/14, 11/28), Thursday evening performances (10/19, 10/26, 11/2, 11/9, 11/16, 11/30), and Sunday matinee performances (10/15, 10/22, 10/29, 11/5, 11/12, 11/19, 11/26, 12/3).

Community Conversation on 11/21

You're invited to a dynamic Town Hall-style discussion, featuring professional and personal insights from area experts, following the 7:30 performance.

Scoop on Wednesdays: History, Context, and Gossip

Join us for lively conversations before Wednesday 7:30pm performances with Resident Dramaturg Gina Pisasale to get the inside scoop about the rehearsal and production process, design choices, and the world of the play. The program begins at 6pm in the Steinbright Theatre Lobby on 10/25, 11/1, 11/8, 11/15, 11/22, & 11/29. Cost of $5 includes light fare. Call the Box Office at 610.644.3500 to purchase.

Open Caption Performances

In Open Caption performances, the actors' lines appear simultaneously on an LED screen near the stage to assist patrons with hearing impairments, and patrons learning English. We offer Open Caption performances of Lights Out: Nat "King" Cole on Wednesday 11/8 at 2PM, Wednesday 11/8 at 7:30PM, and Sunday 11/12 at 2PM.

Dinner & A Show

Enjoy prix fixe Dinner & A Show packages at the Farmhouse Bistro prior to select Wednesday through Sunday performances. Pay $78 for a Wednesday evening, Thursday evening, Saturday matinee, or Sunday evening package; or $87 for a Friday evening, Saturday evening, or Sunday matinee package. That's a savings of up to 15% off the single ticket price. Call the Box Office at 610.644.3500.

Next to the Bistro, please note our full-service catering venue, The Farmhouse at People's Light, perfect for weddings, corporate events, and special celebrations. Contact the Sales Team at 610.647.1631 x156 or


Lights Out previews begin on Wednesday, October 11 at 7:30 pm and run through October 17, 2017 at 7:30 pm. The play opens on Wednesday, October 18 and runs through Sunday, December 3.

Standard single tickets start at $39. For tickets, call the Box Office at 610.644.3500. Special discounts are available for groups of 10 or more. For more information or to purchase group tickets, call 610.647.1900 x111 or email

8-play subscription packages for the 2017-2018 season are available for purchase and start at $192. Productions include Lights Out: Nat "King" Cole (October 11 - December 3, 2017), Aladdin: A Musical Panto (November 15, 2017 - January 7, 2018), Morning's at Seven (January 10 - February 4, 2018), The Diary of Anne Frank (February 21 - March 31, 2018), I Will Not Go Gently (March 21 - April 15,2018), Romeo and Juliet: A Requiem (April 25 - May 27, 2018), Skeleton Crew (June 13 - July 8, 2018), and Woody Sez (August 1 - 26, 2018). Visit or call 610-644-3500 to order.

Actors, prices, productions, performance dates and times are subject to change. Additional service charges will apply. Contact the Box Office for more details.


Colman Domingo
Colman is an Olivier, Tony, Drama Desk, Drama League Award nominated, OBIE and Lucille Lortel Award winning actor, playwright and director. Theatre Includes: As an actor, he starred in the London Evening Standard Award-winning The Scottsboro Boys (Young Vic in London); made his British and Australian theatrical debuts with his self-penned solo play A Boy and His Soul (Tricycle Theater, Brisbane Powerhouse Theaters, New York's Vineyard Theater); and starred in his play Wild With Happy (Public Theater). As a writer, his latest play Dot premiered at the Humana Festival at Actors Theater of Louisville and Off-Broadway at the Vineyard Theatre; he co-wrote the new musical Summer: The Donna Summer Musical (La Jolla Playhouse) and Lights Out: Nat "King" Cole (People's Light), both premiering this fall. He has directed for the Lark, the Geffen Playhouse, Actors Theater of Louisville, the Working Theater, New Professional Theatre, Berkeley Rep, and Lincoln Center Directors Lab. Coming up, he will direct Ken Urban's world premiere of A Guide for the Homesick this fall (Huntington Theatre). Film/Television Includes: Currently stars on AMC's Fear the Walking Dead as Victor Strand. 2017 will find him guest starring on Bojack Horseman (Netflix), Timeless (NBC), American Dad (FOX) and Miles from Tomorrowland (Disney Jr); recurred on The Knick (Cinemax) and guest starred on Horace and Pete (Hulu) and Lucifer (FOX). He recently wrapped the independent feature First Match for Netflix and Assassination Nation and co-starred in many films such as the Academy Award-nominated Paramount film Selma; Lee Daniels' The Butler; All is Bright; Newlyweeds; Steven Spielberg's Lincoln; three films directed by Spike Lee including Miracle At St. Ana, Red Hook Summer and Passing Strange; Freedomland; True Crime directed by Clint Eastwood; and The Birth of A Nation.

Patricia McGregor
McGregor has twice been profiled by The New York Times for her direction of world premieres. Theatre Includes: Recently Good Grief (Center Theater Group), Hamlet (The Public Theater), Measure for Measure (Old Globe), The Parchaman Hour (The Guthrie), Ugly Lies the Bone (Roundabout), brownsville song (b-side for tray) (Lincoln Center), and Holding It Down (Metropolitan Museum). Other credits include A Raisin in the Sun, The Winter's Tale, and Spunk (California Shakespeare Theater); Adoration of the Old Woman (INTAR); The House That Will Not Stand (Berkeley Repertory, Yale Repertory); Blood Dazzler (Harlem Stage); Four Electric Ghosts (The Kitchen); Indomitable James Brown (The Apollo) and the world premiere of Hurt Village (Signature Theatre Company). She served as Associate Director of Fela! on Broadway. For many years she has directed The 24 Hour Plays on Broadway. She co-founded Angela's Pulse with her sister, choreographer and organizer Paloma McGregor. Training: Attended the Yale School of Drama, where she was a Paul & Daisy Soros Fellow and Artistic Director of the Yale Cabaret.

Gisela Adisa
People's Light debut. Theatre Includes: Broadway: Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. First National Tour: Sister Act. New York Theatre: Ubu Roi (Fordham), Shakin' The Mess Outta Misery (Henry Street Settlement), Marie Christine (title role), Caroline, or Change (Gallery Players). Film/Television Includes: Ride By Night, Chasing Taste, Jamerican, Royal Pains. Training: Graduate of Fordham University's Drama and African Studies programs. Website: @imGisela on Twitter and Instagram. #BlackLivesMatter

Marc D. Donovan
People's Light debut. Theatre Includes: Million Dollar Quartet (Las Vegas), Crazy For You (Ogunquit Playhouse), Carousel, Urban Cowboy (West Virginia Public Theatre), Fat Pig (12 Miles West Theatre Co), Pugilist Specialist (Luna Stage), Annie Get Your Gun (Cider Mill Playhouse). Film/Television Includes: Boardwalk Empire, Blue Bloods, Zero Hour, The Trust, The Young and the Restless, All My Children. Marc has also appeared in and/or lent his voice to more than 40 television and radio commercials. Website:

Rachael Duddy
People's Light debut. Theatre Includes: Esperanza Spalding's Emily's D+Evolution (International Tour, Carnegie Hall) LaMama Cantata (LaMama, International Tour, Tamagawa University, Japan) La DeRoute (New Georges) Loving V. Virginia (Williamstown, New York Stage and Film). Training: BFA, NYU Tisch. Website:

Dulé Hill
People's Light debut. Theatre Includes: Most recently appeared in the Tony nominated musical After Midnight (Broadway's Brooks Atkinson Theatre). First came to prominence as The Kid opposite Savion Glover and Jeffrey Wright in Bring in 'Da Noise, Bring in 'Da Funk (Public Theatre, Broadway's Ambassador Theatre). Other stage credits include the Alicia Keys-produced play Stick Fly (Broadway's Cort Theatre), Black and Blue (Broadway's Minskoff Theatre), Shenandoah (Paper Mill Playhouse), The Little Rascals (Goodspeed Opera House), and Amiri Baraka's Obie award-winning play Dutchman (Cherry Lane Theatre). Film/Television Includes: Best known for his work as Charlie Young on The West Wing, for which he garnered an Emmy Award nomination and four Image Award nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, as well as receiving two Screen Actors Guild Awards as part of the ensemble in a drama series. He has been nominated for four NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series for his work on USA's Psych, in which he portrayed Burton 'Gus' Guster for eight seasons and served as a producer. Hill will be reviving this role with the original co-stars in the upcoming film Psych: The Movie, premiering on USA this December. This Spring, Hill starred in J.D. Dillard's drama Sleight, which has received rave reviews since its 2016 Sundance Film Festival debut. Hill most recently joined for a season-long arc as rival senior partner, Alex Williams, in the USA Network drama Suits, which just premiered its seventh season. Hill can also next be seen in the third season of the HBO series Ballers with Dwayne Johnson, which is set to return July 23rd. Previous film credits include the Independent Spirit Award nominated film Gayby; David H. Steinberg's Miss Dial alongside Robinne Lee, Sam Jaeger and Jon Huertas; Stuart Gordon's adaptation of David Mamet's Edmond, opposite William H. Macy; Andrew Davis' The Guardian; Disney's Holes, an adaptation of the award-winning children's novel by Louis Sachar in which he appeared as Sam the Onion Man alongside co-stars Sigourney Weaver, Jon Voight and Shia LaBeouf; Gravy; Sugar Hill; She's All That; Sexual Life; and the independent comedy Remarkable Power, directed by Brandon Beckner, starring Kevin Nealon and Kip Pardue.

Dayshawn Jacobs
Billy/Young Nat
People's Light debut. Dayshawn is currently an 8th grader at Stetson Middle School, in West Chester, PA. In school, he participates in chorus and school plays (most recently as a prince in Aladdin). Dayshawn looks forward to West Chester Summer Stage every year, takes weekly singing lessons, and enjoys singing on stage and off. He did a session at West Chester Performing Arts Camp this past summer. Dayshawn is an avid lover of sports. He plays football and lacrosse for various leagues and can often be found competing against his brothers.

Zonya Love
People's Light debut. Theatre Includes: Broadway: The Color Purple (as Celie). Some credits: First National Tour of Avenue Q, Sister Act (as Deloris Van Cartier at California Musical Theatre), The Devil's Music (as Bessie Smith at Milwaukee Rep), The Parchman Hour (as Lucretia Collins/others at Guthrie Theater), Kiss Me Kate (as Hattie at Shakespeare Theater Company), The Wiz (as Evilene at Maltz Jupiter Theatre), Intimate Apparel (as Mayme at Nevada Conservatory Theatre). Film/Television Includes: Blue Bloods, Smash, The David Letterman Show.

Owen Pelesh
Stage Manager
People's Light: Athos in The Three Musketeers (The Later Years). Theatre Includes: Act 2 Playhouse, Arrow Rock Lyceum, Kimmel Center, Mauckingbird Theatre Co., Merry-Go-Round Playhouse, Theatre By The Sea, Riverside Theater, and Walnut Street Theatre. Film/Television Includes: Various commercials. Training: Proud graduate of Temple University. Personal Website:

Jo Twiss
Peoples Light debut. Theatre Includes: Broadway: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof; recent regional credits: Rabbit Hole (Theatre with a View), The Roommate (Florida Studio Theatre), By the Water (Premier Stage), Steel Magnolias (Bristol Riverside Theatre), as well as Romeo and Juliet and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, among others. Television/Film Includes: The Affair, Seven Seconds, House of Cards, and she is a "repeat offender" on all the Law and Order series. She is also a nurse and has taught acting at various universities and theaters on the east coast.

Daniel J. Watts
People's Light debut. Theatre Includes: Eight Broadway shows including Hamilton, In The Heights and Memphis. An accomplished spoken word artist, Watts launchEd WattsWords Productions in 2012. Daniel J. Watts' The Jam, an homage to his great-grandmother who made homemade jam from scratch and gave away what she couldn't eat herself, is a spoken word/storytelling experience fusing a live band, song, dance and multimedia where Watts encourages audiences to focus on social similarities as opposed to differences. Film/Television Includes: Recurring roles on NBC's Blindspot and HBO's Vinyl; The Good Wife (CBS); Blue Bloods (CBS); Odd Mom Out (Bravo); The Night Of (HBO); Boardwalk Empire (HBO); Person of Interest (CBS); Broad City (Comedy Central); and Smash (NBC). Film credits include Breakup at a Wedding; Among Brothers; and Freedom. Watts served as an adjunct professor of NYU's Tisch New Studio. He teaches his own course on how to truly engage in one's self in order to contribute meaningful and personal artistic work. Training: BFA, Elon University Music Theatre Program. 2011 Young Alumnus Award Recipient. Website:; @dwattswords on Twitter and Instagram.

Now in its 43rd season, People's Light, a professional, not-for-profit theatre in Chester County, Pennsylvania, makes plays drawn from many sources to entertain, inspire, and engage our community. We extend our mission of making and experiencing theatre through arts education programs that excite curiosity about, and deepen understanding of, the world around us. These plays and programs bring people together and provide opportunities for reflection, discovery, and celebration. Founded in 1974, we produce eight to nine plays each season, in two black box theatres with 340 and 160 seats respectively, mixing world premieres, contemporary plays, and fresh approaches to classic texts. Through two new play initiatives, New Play Frontiers and The Harmony Labs, People's Light currently has nine active play commissions. Of our 436 productions, over a third (166) have been world or regional premieres.

Related Articles

Featured on Stage Door

Shoutouts, Classes & More

More Hot Stories For You