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South Florida Playwright's Show Going From Broadway To Netflix

Actors Kerry Washington, Steven Pasquale and Jeremy Jordan will reprise their Broadway roles in Christopher Demos-Brown's "American Son" for a Netflix production coming soon.
Actors Kerry Washington, Steven Pasquale and Jeremy Jordan will reprise their Broadway roles in Christopher Demos-Brown's "American Son" for a Netflix production coming soon.

In the opening scene of Christopher Demos-Brown's play "American Son," a black woman sits alone in the waiting room of a Miami police station, desperately waiting for word of her missing 18-year-old son.

Demos-Brown says the impetus for the story was a number of deadly interactions between American police officers and young black men in recent years. But he says his past experience working in the Miami-Dade State Attorney's office gave him a glimpse of the relationships between law enforcement officers that eventually made it onto the stage.

"There is a lot of shifting of alliances between the characters on stage and that sprang out of when I observed as a State Attorney," says Demos-Brown, who is still a practicing lawyer here in South Florida.

 

"American Son" has just come off a successful run on Broadway, starring Kerry Washington, from the TV show “Scandal,” and Steven Pasquale. And now the play is coming to Netflix with the Broadway cast reprising their roles.

Perhaps just as exciting for many local theatergoers, "American Son" will be making its South Florida premiere this coming November at Zoetic Stage, a theater co-founded by Demos-Brown.

WLRN's Christine DiMattei talked to Christopher Demos-Brown about the process of taking his play from the theater to TV. 

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Interview Highlights

South Florida-based playwright Christopher Demos-Brown
Credit Peter Cunningham
South Florida-based playwright Christopher Demos-Brown

WLRN: When the news came that "American Son" was going to be produced for Broadway and that the casting choices were made, what went through your mind?

Demos-Brown: You don't get the news the way somebody who's proposing gets the news that they're about to get married. You know -- in one big beautiful moment. The news of this getting produced came slowly -- because first Broadway producers approached me and then I got a contract with one and then that producer said, 'This could be a long process and it's contingent upon having the right star involved.' And then Kenny Leon got attached as the director and then Kerry read it and was interested. I told my wife during the two-year process that this was happening that I'm not going to believe that the play is on Broadway until opening night when the curtain goes up. So it's a very long process. 

Now that “American Son” is coming to the small screen, what kind of crash course is this for you in how television production is done?

It's been a great primer for that because it's a hybrid between a live stage production and television production so it's been a good way to ease into it and it's a fascinating process.

How do you think this play you wrote for the stage, originally meant to be seen in a live setting with people sitting next to each other, will be experienced differently on television?

I think the intimacy of the play will translate well and I think it's going to be an interesting experience. I think the proximity to the actors' faces in your living room will actually give it an immediacy that it might not have had onstage.

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