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Henderson's play scores the Pulitzer

From left, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Elizabeth Canavan, Michael Rispoli, Rosal Colon, and Ron Cephas Jones in Between Riverside and Crazy. (Photo by Carol Rosegg)
Photo by Kevin Thomas Garcia

Henderson's play scores the pulitzer

Stephen McKinley Henderson has had a momentous week.

“I’m speechless on this one, man!” enthuses the celebrated actor, reached in his Buffalo home by telephone. He had just learned that Stephen Adly Guirgis’s most recent play, Between Riverside and Crazy, in which Henderson had starred off-Broadway has been honored with the 2015 Pulitzer Prize. In fact, it has been reported everywhere that the play was written specifically for Henderson.

“I think the way I would put it,” Henderson clarifies, “is that Stephen had this play that he was going to write; it was in his head; and the great compliment he paid me is that he decided he didn’t want to do this play without me. This is far larger than writing a play for someone. I am thrilled for him and the people and the characters who fill his world!”

In a week full of accolades, Henderson had spoken to Guirgis earlier in the day to share congratulations about having been nominated for the Outer Critics Circle awards. In this New York awards season, honors are being heaped upon Henderson and Guirgis for their work.

Between Riverside and Crazy is the story of a retired New York City police officer (Henderson) who has secrets and deceptions in his past, and who is about to be evicted from his rent-controlled Riverside apartment.

It has been a historic season for Henderson, as these most recent honors come right on the heels of the University at Buffalo’s celebration of his career as an actor and educator in their annual “Signature Series,” which each year honors a distinguished member of the faculty who has made major accomplishments in Arts and Letters. Henderson’s storied career includes a Tony nomination for August Wilson’s Fences in 2012. He has played many important roles in Wilson plays, most significantly, Turnbo in Jitney. He has also played innumerable roles on television and in film, including Stephen Spielberg’s Lincoln.

Now known as the star of a Pulitzer Prize winning play, Henderson says,

“It’s great! I’m just thrilled! You think you only have one Jitney in your life and then this happens. It’s crazy!”

Let’s say, it’s Between Riverside and Crazy. Congratulations, Mr. Henderson!