Tony winner Phylicia Rashad will take on the role of pill-popping matriarch Violet Weston in Broadway’s August: Osage County starting May 26. Estelle Parsons, who has been playing the role since last June, will depart at that time to headline the show’s national tour.
Rashad was last seen on Broadway playing Big Mama in the historic 2008 revival of Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, the first sanctioned production to feature a cast of African-American actors. Rashad is breaking racial boundaries again with August: Osage County, notably becoming the first African-American actress to appear in the company.
Rashad won the 2004 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for A Raisin in the Sun, a role she reprised in last year’s acclaimed television adaptation, receiving an Emmy Award nomination. She also received a Tony nomination for August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean in 2005. She made her Broadway debut in 1972 in Ain’t Supposed to Die a Natural Death and has also been seen in The Wiz, Dreamgirls, In the Woods and Jelly’s Last Jam. In addition to her theater credits, Rashad is remembered and well-loved for playing matriarch Claire Huxtable on Bill Cosby’s sitcom The Cosby Show from 1984 to 1992.
Tracy Letts’ August: Osage County, winner of the 2008 Tony Award for Best Play, also currently stars Elizabeth Ashley, Guy Boyd, John Cullum, Johanna Day, Scott Jaeck, Brian Kerwin, Madeleine Martin, Michael Milligan, Dee Pelletier, Samantha Ross, Amy Warren and Frank Wood under the direction of Anna D. Shapiro.