The Billie Holiday Theatre presents The Old Settler by John Henry Redwood The First Show of the 2017-2018 Season

The Billie Holiday Theatre (The Billie) is launching its 46th Season in the newly-renovated theater with a production of The Old Settler, written by Brooklyn-born playwright John Henry Redwood and directed by Tony Award-nominee Michele Shay. The Old Settler will feature The Billie veterans Pauletta Pearson Washington (Two Trains Running, Autumn), Denise Burse (Brownsville Song: b side for Trey, House of Payne), and Warner Miller (Luke Cage), as well as newcomer and Juilliard graduate Maechi Aharanwa (An Octoroon).

Set in 1943 Harlem, The Old Settler focuses on two sisters’ struggle to afford their rising
rent. Faced with a choice between giving up their apartment and renting out their extra
room to a stranger, they decide to take a chance on a boarder, newly arrived from the
South. In equal measures funny and poignant, The Old Settler is a glimpse into the heart of
an American City.

“The vitality and beauty of this work moves me every time I see it,” said Michele Shay. “Our
beloved Maya Angelou said it best: ‘People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’ That’s the all-
important sweet spot playwright John Henry Redwood digs into in this humorous, passionate, insightful glimpse into the roller coaster of relationships. The characters’
struggles are our struggles; their desires, ours. When it was first written in the late 1990s,
it became one of the most produced plays of its time, because you simply can’t forget how
deeply these characters make you feel. It is a timeless story that rings as true now as it did

The Old Settler will be stage managed by Carolyn Reich. Lighting will be designed by David
Moodey, sound design by Kevin Novinsky, costume design by Niiamar Felder, and scenic
design and props by Frank Oliva.

General Information

The first full production in the newly renovated theatre, The Old Settler will run from
October 20 – November 19, 2017. Tickets are available at
Subscriptions to the 2017-2018 season are on sale by calling 718-636-6995 or by visiting

About The Billie Holiday Theatre

The Billie Holiday Theatre (The Billie), founded in 1972 by Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration
Corporation, is an OBIE and AUDELCO Award-winning theater devoted to the discovery of
world-class storytelling with a focus on stories for, by and about people of African descent
with 3-4 productions annually. The Billie presents, promotes and sustains art that reflects
the definitive issues of our time in and through all of its forms of expression, especially
drama, and including jazz, opera, ballet, film, poetry, and other forms of intellectual and
instructive entertainment; to produce and stimulate performances or theatrical
productions of all kinds with a focus on, but not limited to the African American experience;
and to commission and premiere original works.


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