Director, Producer, Actor
Director, Producer, Actor
KENNY LEON (Director) is a Tony Award winning Broadway and film director. His Broadway credits include the 2014 revival of A Raisin in the Sun starring Denzel Washington(Tony Award Winner for Best Direction of a Play and Best Revival), The Mountaintop starring Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett, Stick Fly produced by Alicia Keys, August Wilson's Fences (which garnered ten Tony nominations and won three Tony Awards including Best Revival), the 2004 revival of A Raisin in the Sun with Sean P. Diddy Combs, Gem of the Ocean, Radio Golf and the 2014 premiere of Holler if You Hear Me, a new musical created using the music of Tupac Shakur. Leon's recent film work includes "In My Dreams" for Hallmark Hall of Fame, "The Watsons go to Birmingham" for Walden Media and Hallmark, and the Sony and Lifetime TV adaptation of "Steel Magnolias". Leon is the recipient of numerous awards including the 2010 Julia Hansen Award for Excellence in Directing by the Drama League of New York.
Mr. Leon is the Artistic Director of Kenny Leon's True Colors Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia. Prior to co-founding True Colors Theatre Company, he served 11 years as Artistic Director of the Alliance Theatre, where he produced the premieres of Disney's Elaborate Lives: The Legend of Aida, Pearl Cleage's Blues for an Alabama Sky and Alfred Uhry's The Last Night of Ballyhoo. Other directorial credits include Alicia Keys World Tour, Toni Morrison's opera, Margaret Garner, the world premiere of Flashdance, The Musical, and the complete August Wilson Century Cycle at the Kennedy Center. Leon is a sought after motivational speaker that has done acting and theatre workshops at universities and corporate offices around the country, South Africa and Ireland. He has directed in England, and extensively throughout the US, including Chicago's Goodman Theatre, Boston's Huntington Theatre, Baltimore's Center Stage, Los Angeles' Center Theatre Group and New York's Public Theatre. Leon is a graduate of Clark Atlanta and is an honorary Ph.D. recipient of Clark Atlanta and Roosevelt Universities. He is currently serving as the Denzel Washington Chair at Fordhom University
Atlanta director Kenny Leon will direct the next live musical for NBC, “The Wiz,” on Dec. 3, the network announced Monday. The show, which will feature performers from Cirque du Soleil, also is headed for a 2016-17 Broadway run. Tony Award winner Harvey Fierstein will contribute new material to the original Broadway book by William F. Brown and work alongside Leon and executive producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron. Zadan and Meron also executive produced “Sound of Music” and “Peter Pan” live for TV.
Leon worked with Zadan and Meron on a TV remake of “Steel Magnolias” and “Raisin in the Sun,” for which the Atlanta director earned a Tony.
“We love this yearly tradition and we’re more excited than ever to not only bring another Broadway musical to America’s living rooms, but also see it land on Broadway as well,” NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt said in the announcement. “It’s a natural next step for our live musical events, and we’re so pleased to be in business with this award-winning creative team … Cirque’s incredible imagination will help bring the fantasy world of Oz vividly to life and give this great show a modern spin on the age-old story we all love.”
“The Wiz” is a retelling, in an African-American context, of L. Frank Baum’s “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” with a book by William F. Brown and music and lyrics by Charlie Smalls. Starting in 1975, it ran for four years on Broadway. It scored seven Tonys, including best musical. For a number of years, it also was the holiday show of Leon’s Atlanta-based troupe, True Colors Theatre Company.
The Tony-winning 1980 play Children of a Lesser God is set to return to Broadway for the first time. The new production will be directed by Kenny Leon, who took home the Tony this year for directing A Raisin in the Sun. The Mark Medoff-penned show will open at a theater to be announced in the 2015-16 season.
No cast has been set for the revival, although producer Hal Luftig told The New York Times that he and Leon aim to cast a company comprised of various ethnicities. The producer also confirmed that he and Leon did intend to cast a deaf actress as Sarah, noting, “anything else would be insulting to the deaf community.”
Children of a Lesser God tells the story of James Leeds, a new teacher at a school for the deaf, and Sarah Norman, the school’s one-time star student who has stayed behind as its cleaning woman rather than venturing out into the hearing world. James immediately takes a keen interest in Sarah, and tries to persuade her to communicate orally by lip reading as they kindle a romance beyond word. The original Broadway production starred Phyllis Frelich and John Rubinstein, who both won Tonys for their performances. The screen adaptation received five Academy Award nominations and earned Marlee Matlin the 1987 Oscar for Best Actress.
Holler If Ya Hear Me, the world inside Tupac Shakur’s music and lyrics, blazes to life in a non-biographical story about friendship, family, revenge, change and hope. Inner city lives struggle for peace against the daily challenges they face in this entertaining and original musical. Through the poetry of one of the 20th century’s most influential and culturally prominent voices, we are given a window into realities of the streets still relevant today.
When Artistic Director Kenny Leon and Managing Director Jane Bishop teamed up in 2002 to design a new theatre, they envisioned a smartly-managed, inclusive theatre company that would achieve both local and national impact. Thanks to a tremendous outpouring of support, their vision has quickly turned into reality.
The name True Colors Theatre Company reflects a promise to search for truth and clarity. True Colors Theatre Company's mission is creating a moveable feast of theatre grounded in the rich canon of African-American classics and branching out to include bold interpretations of world drama and a strong commitment to diverse new voices, helping to develop those early-career writers who are creating tomorrow's classics today.
True Colors Theatre Company intends to be an important voice in the American discussion of diversity, supporting and propelling individuals and institutions in their quest for understanding. Operationally, the company will strive to remain fiscally sound and small enough that every individual who works there can be heard, be accountable, get better at what they do, and live out True Colors' core values.
Check out True Colors previous productions