Justin Weaks, Frankie Faison, Charlayne Woodard, Roscoe Orman and More Sign on for BUD, NOT BUDDY at Kennedy Center; Full Cast Set!

Justin Weaks, Frankie Faison, Charlayne Woodard, Roscoe Orman and More Sign on for BUD, NOT BUDDY at Kennedy Center; Full Cast Set!The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts has announced the full casting for the world premiere of Bud, Not Buddy, a new play by Obie Award winner Kirsten Greenidge, adapted from Christopher Paul Curtis's acclaimed Newbury Medal winning novel, with music by world-renowned jazz artist and composer Terence Blanchard.

The cast features D.C. favorite Justin Weaks (The Kennedy Center's Darius & Twig) as Bud, Tony Award nominee Frankie Faison (Fences), Tony Award nominee Charlayne Woodard (Ain't Misbehavin'), and Sesame Street's Gordon, Roscoe Orman. Joining them will be Helen Hayes Award winner KenYatta Rogers, John Clarence Stewart (Netflix's Luke Cage), Ray Shell (Original London production of Five Guys Named Moe), and Helen Hayes Award winner Michael Willis.

Set in Flint, Michigan in 1936, Bud, Not Buddy tells the story of Bud, a ten-year old who is sure about two things: he wants to find his father and he is not called Buddy. With only one clue, a flyer advertising Herman E. Calloway and his band, and his trusty suitcase in tow, Bud sets off on an epic journey of discovery, set to the soulful sounds of jazz. The theme of courage reflected in Bud's adventure is an ideal frequently ascribed to President John F. Kennedy and is among the five ideals the Kennedy Center is exploring during JFKC: A Centennial Celebration of John F. Kennedy. This programming initiative showcases works like Bud, Not Buddy that embody the spirit of President Kennedy's vision for America.

With direction by Clarke Peters (HBO's The Wire and Treme), this touching new play which incorporates a large on-stage jazz ensemble to perform Blanchard's score is part radio play, part jazz concert, and all heart.

Visit www.kennedy-center.org for more about the show.


Frankie Faison (Herman E. Calloway) earned a Tony and Drama Desk nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of the brain-damaged Gabriel to James Earl Jones' Troy Maxon in August Wilson's award-winning play Fences. His other Broadway appearances include Getting Away with Murder, the Brooks Atkinson Theatre's production of Of Mice and Men, and the Circle in the Square revival of The Iceman Cometh and The Shadow Box. Faison also took on the challenge of playing the role of Memphis in August Wilson's Two Trains Running and the monumental role of Willy Loman in Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman. Following his success as Commissioner Ervin Burrell on the acclaimed HBO series The Wire, Faison continues to weave a series of studio and independent film performances in Cirque du Freak, Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist, Meet the Browns, and the indie films Order of Redemption, For Sale By Owner, Adam, and Splinterheads. Audiences delighted in his portrayal of Chief Gordon in the madcap Wayans Brothers comedy White Chicks. Other prominent feature appearances include all three "Hannibal Lecter" films: The Silence of the Lambs Red Dragon and Hannibal, as well as appearing in the prequel film Manhunter, making him the only actor to have appeared in all of the series' films. He can most recently be seen in the Cinemax series Banshee as Sugar Bates and the hit Netflix series Luke Cage as Pops.

Roscoe Orman (Jimmy, etc.) is widely known for his 42 seasons as "Gordon" on Sesame Street. TV audiences have also seen him on Sanford and Son, Kojak, All My Children, A Man Called Hawk, Law & Order, Law & Order SVU, Cosby, Sex and the City, The Wire, Alpha House, and, most recently, HBO's The Night Of. A Bronx, New York native, Orman began his acting studies at Manhattan's Circle In The Square Theatre School, making his professional debut with the Next Stage Theatre revue, If We Grow Up. He has since achieved a long and distinguished list of theater, film, and television credits. His more recent stage roles have included Doaker Charles in The Piano Lesson, Jim Becker in Jitney, Troy Maxon in Fences, Hoke Colburn in Driving Miss Daisy, and Lincoln Perry in Fetch Clay, Make Man, and is a five-time nominee and a two-time recipient of the Audelco Theatre Award. As a director, Orman has staged productions of plays such as Ed Bullins' Goin'a Buffalo, Clara's Ole Man, How Do You Do, and House Party. In 1973, Orman made his feature film debut in the title role of Universal Pictures' Willie Dynamite. His other films include Follow That Bird, FX, Striking Distance, New Jersey Drive, The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland, 30 Days, and Jeremy Fink and The Meaning of Life. He has toured extensively with his Gordon of Sesame Street concert series and with Matt Robinson's highly acclaimed one-man play The Confessions of Stepin Fetchit. His memoir, Sesame Street Dad: Evolution of an Actor was published in 2006, and his children's book Ricky & Mobo was published in 2007.

KenYatta Rogers (Jerry Clark, etc.) returns to The Kennedy Center after performing in the 2015 production If All the Sky Were Paper. Regional credits include King Hedley II, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (Arena Stage); Father Comes Home from the Wars, Two Trains Running, Glengarry Glen Ross, Eurydice, A Lesson Before Dying (Round House Theatre); Holly Down in Heaven (Forum Theatre); Topdog/Underdog, A Raisin in the Sun (Everyman Theatre); Fever/Dream (Woolly Mammoth); Jitney (Ford's Theatre); Colossal (Olney Theatre Center); Comedy of Errors (Folger Theatre); The Piano Lesson (Trustus Theatre); Coriolanus (Shakespeare & Company); As You Like It, Spunk, and Joe Turner's Come and Gone, (African Continuum Theatre). Rogers has received four Helen Hayes nominations and one win for his stage work in the nation's capital. TV credits including the PBS series Standard Deviants. He received his MFA in acting from the University of Pittsburgh and is currently a faculty member in Montgomery College's Department of Performing Arts.

Ray Shell (Doo-Doo Bug, Pretend Brother) is an international actor, writer, singer, producer, and director. As an actor, Shell has worked for directors and composers such as Clarke Peters, Trevor Nunn, Claude Michel Schonberg, Arthur Darvill, and Andrew Lloyd Webber. As a vocalist he has sung with Magazine, Whitney Houston, The Police, Peter Green, and many others. Shell's film and television credits include The Apple, Young Soul Rebels, Velvet Goldmine; Breakfast With David Frost. He is the author of Iced; Spike Lee: The Eternal Maverick; and Feedin' Miranda, a novel currently in film development with Sugar Films, London. Shell has directed The Black Fashion Designers Show, Royal Albert Hall, London; Street Angels, Mannafest Poetry Slam; Royal Festival Hall, London; and White Folks; Cochrane Theatre, London. He was the artistic director of Giant Olive Theatre Company at the Lion & Unicorn Theatre, London from 2008-11, and is currently the artistic director of TAIP (Total Artist in Production) Lab in Wilson, North Carolina. As a performance director and voice coach, Shell has been a vocal coach for the BBC Television Series The Voice UK; X Factor finalist Jahmene Douglas; and singers Marsha Ambrosius, Sia, Jamiroquai, Caron Wheeler, Grace Jones, among others. He studied acting, literature, and mass communications at Emerson College, Boston Mass and graduated with a BFA in 1974.

John Clarence Stewart (The Thug, etc.) is excited to be here with this group. He has also worked at Manhattan Theatre Club (Choir Boy), The Classical Theater of Harlem (Fit for a Queen) and Libra Theatre (KIND SOULS) in New York. Regional theater credits include: The ALLIANCE THEATRE (The Whipping Man, Choir Boy, A Christmas Carol, Songs to Grow On), Actors Theatre of Louisville (brownsville song b-side for tray), and The Aurora Theatre (Lombardi). TV credits include The Mysteries of Laura (NBC), Gotham (FOX), Blue Bloods (CBS), and most recently Luke Cage (Netflix), and The Good Fight (CBS).

Justin Weaks (Bud) returns to the Kennedy Center after appearing in Darius & Twig in 2015. D.C. and regional credits include: The Christians (Theater J); Lobby Hero (1st Stage); Word Becomes Flesh (Boomerang Award Recipient), Dontrell, Who Kissed the Sea (Theater Alliance); Romeo & Juliet, Animal Farm (Olney Theater Center, National Players); Joan, The Girl of Arc, A Christmas Carol, The Last Wish (Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park); Les Faux Pas: Or the Counterplots, The Venetian Twins (Shakespeare & Company); and Pinocchio (Barter Theatre). New York credits include: Love's Labours Lost (Hamlet Isn't Dead), and Come, My Beloved (The Working Theater). Currently, Weaks can be seen in Charm with the Mosaic Theater Company of D.C. through January 29, 2017. He also works as a teaching artist in New York City. He holds a bachelors degree in theater from Greensboro College in North Carolina.

Michael Willis (Dirty Deed, Lefty, Announcer) A 30 year member of the nationally-renowned Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, a six-time Helen Hayes Award nominee and recipient of the Outstanding Lead Actor Award, Willis has created roles in dozens of world premieres, including Fever Dream by Sheila Callaghan, Craig Wright's Melissa Arctic and Grace (Folger Theatre), Melissa James Gilbert's Current Nobody, and Heather MacDonald's Stay for TFA. Most recently, he was in the cast of Marjorie Prime at The Olney Theatre Center and in The Christians at Theater J. Television appearances include recurring roles on The Wire and Homicide, and a number of appearances on the Law & Order franchises, among others. His score of feature films include Men in Black, Pushing Tin, and Tin Men.

Charlayne Woodard (Miss Thomas, etc.) is a two-time Obie Award winner and a Tony Award nominee. Broadway credits include the original company of Ain't Misbehavin' (Tony and Drama Desk nominations). Off-Broadway credits include the revival of the Substance of Fire, by Jon Robin Baitz; The Witch of Edmonton (Obie Award); Suzan-Lori Parks' In The Blood (Obie Award); Fabulation... by Lynn Nottage; Stunning by David Adjmi; Sorrows and Rejoicings by Athol Fugard (Audelco award); and The Caucasian Chalk Circle, directed by George C. Wolfe. Regional credits include Zealot by Theresa Rebeck at South Coast Rep; A Midsummer Night's Dream at La Jolla Playhouse; "Katherine" in The Taming of the Shrew at Shakespeare Theatre Company; and Purgatorio by Ariel Dorfman at Seattle Repertory Theatre. Woodard has written and performed four acclaimed solo plays; a multi-character play, Flight; and the 10-minute play, Phenom, which premiered at La Jolla Playhouse's Without Walls Festival. Film and television credits include Charles Murray's Things Never Said; M. Night Shyamalan's Unbreakable; Oprah Winfrey's The Wedding; recurring roles on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, The Leftovers and The Blacklist. She trained at Goodman School of Drama and is a lifetime member of The Actor's Studio. She is a member of Dramatist Guild Council; the Board of Directors at The La Jolla Playhouse; and, is a fellow of the Sundance Film and Theatre Labs, Ojai Playwrights Conference and the Marble House Project.

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