For Tony Award-wining director Kenny Leon, the memory of his grandmother is the fuel that helps him decide whether a project is worth undertaking. Honoring the remembrance of her through his work and having no trepidations in staying true to his beliefs, have garnered him career longevity and success. In his latest stage production, “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” – which made its world premiere to a near-packed house at the Rialto Center for the Arts in Atlanta on July 10 – Leon confidently dives into the crux of racism and illustrates how parents regress on the values they teach their children as the children become adults and make decisions.
The production, written by Todd Kreidler, is based on the 1967 movie “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” starring Academy Award winners Sidney Poitier, Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. The narrative centers on two families of different ethnicities, the Draytons and Prentices, who are confronted with the issue of racial acceptance when a member of each family decides to marry one another.
Joanna “Joey” Drayton, a young Caucasian girl played by Bethany Anne Lind, brings her African-American fiancé, Dr. John Prentice (Tory Kittles), home to meet her parents and discovers their discontent.
The show features some of Atlanta’s most talented African-American actors including Afemo Omilami and Andrea Frye. The stellar cast also includes veteran actors Phylicia Rashad from “The Cosby Show” and Tory Kittles of “CSI: NY.”