How do you bring the brilliant, Pulitzer Prize winning Fences, to the screen? You stick close to August Wilson's jazz poetry. This week Fences was celebrated with a screening at Lincoln Center's jazz venue, Rose Hall. The movie's director Denzel Washington led his killer hand-picked cast including Viola Davis, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Mykelti Williamson, Russell Hornsby--Denzel Washington wanted his actors to stand with him.
At the Tavern on the Green after party Denzel Washington spoke about his direction, opening up the stage play, especially allowing more for Viola Davis's Rose, as he did in one scene when his character Troy in a rage, wreaks havoc in the kitchen. Rose is left perusing the damage left by her emotionally destructive husband. Viola Davis is much praised for her Tony Award winning role Rose, now much touted for Best Actress Oscar.
Jovan Adepo, a young actor who plays Troy's son, pulled Phylicia Rhashad by the hand to meet his mother, proud of this 27 year old. As we left the festivities Russell Hornsby, so good as Troy's older son by another woman, a ne'er do well jazz musician looking for love from his stern father, was moonwalking, in a dance off with Saniyya Sidney, the film's Raynell, Troy's last child, raised by Rose. This impromptu performance previewed the next generation of enormous talents.
A version of this post also appears on Gossip Central.