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[[image - color photograph of a Man wearing hat and suit and holding a trumpet with woman in background singing into an older style standing microphone.  Man is Charles S Dutton and woman is Whoopi Goldberg]]
[[photo credit]]MARC YANKUS/MATT BEARD[[/photo credit]]

The Stars Align by Harry Haun

Whoopi Goldberg and Charles S. Dutton burst onto the Broadway scene 19 years ago. Now they're back, together, starring in a revival of August Wilson's first play, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom.

Looking back on it now, we can readily see how October of 1984 was a red-letter month for theatre. Within the space of 13 days, Broadway was rattled by the arrival of theatrical forces that were, by turns, tragic and comic and cosmic.

First, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom plopped down for a 267-performance stay at the Cort Theatre, signaling a vibrant new voice in American theatre-August Wilson-enunciated with powerful eloquence by the formidable Theresa Merritt and a fierce young bobcat from Yale Drama School named Charles S. Dutton. Then, almost two weeks later, lightning struck again-at the Lyceum Theatre-as Mike Nichols uncorked a quirky chameleon-comedienne, and show, both called Whoopi Goldberg. 

The rich promise embedded in these two events has been realized time and again. Dutton and Goldberg collected Theatre World Awards and Drama Desk citations for their career-making arrivals, then went West where they heaped more glory on themselves via work in television and features. She won an Oscar (for Ghost), emceed several Oscar shows and produced "Hollywood Squares." He nabbed Emmys for acting ("The Practice") and directing ("The Corner") and found sitcom fame and fortune as "Roc."

Wilson stayed the course and, like the little tailor who killed seven (flies) with a single blow, nailed the Best Play prize from the New York Drama Critics Circle seven times running: Ma Rainey's Black Bottom in 1985, Fences in 1987, Joe Turner's Come and Gone in 1988, The Piano Lesson in 1990, Two Trains Running in 1992, Seven Guitars in 1996 and Jitney in 2000. His latest, King Hedley II in 2001, was "only"

10 WWW.PLAYBILL.COM PURE THEATRE ONLINE

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