A new play called Turn Me Loose, starring Joe Morton (of Scandal and American Gangster fame,) is set to open off-Broadway on May 3. The play, written by Gretchen Law and directed by John Gould Rubin, will chronicle the life and career of comedian and activist Dick Gregory. Singer/songwriter John Legend will not only be providing an original song for the score, but will also be co-producing the play.
Gregory is a juggernaut of a personality who has kept himself remarkably busy throughout the years. As a young comic, Gregory gained notoriety for being one of the first black comics to perform for white audiences. His aim was to break the bonds of the minstrel tradition, which relegated black comedians to playing exaggerated stereotypes rather than speaking plainly on current events or culture. He succeeded in this endeavor, gaining the attention and employment of Playboy owner Hugh Hefner, which catapulted his career forward.
Gregory went on to become the first African American guest to be allowed to sit on the interview couch during a late night talk show when he performed on Tonight Starring Jack Paar. From there, his resume grows exponentially; he spoke in Selma, Alabama in the height of the Civil Rights movement in 1963, he ran for mayor of Chicago in 1967 and President of the United States in 1968, and has made a slew of appearances on shows ranging Wonder Showzen to The Alex Jones Show in recent years. He’s also released a list of comedy albums including the acclaimed Dick Gregory Live at the Village Gate. Simply put, Gregory’s life has been an inspirational whirlwind of hilarity and wholehearted activism, so there is plenty of material with which to make an engaging stage show.
The show debuts at 7:30 pm on May 3 at the Westside Theater on 407 West 43rd Street. Tickets are $79 and can be bought online or at the box office up until curtain time.