The Connection is a 1959 play by Jack Gelber, originally produced by the Living Theatre, which won three 1960 Obie Awards for best production, best new play, and best actor for Walter Finnerty. The music was composed by the Freddie Redd, and performed by his quartet which included Jackie McLean on Alto.
In 1962 the play was adapted into a motion picture, incorporating most of the Living Theatre cast including Carl Lee as Cowboy. In the NFT production, Lee directs a young Morgan Freeman in the role he originated. NFT’s production also features Ron Silver, Cynthia Belgrave, and Gary Bartz as musical director and alto performer (a worthy replacement for Jackie McLean).
The play focuses on the work of a writer and producer who are trying to stage an experimental theatrical production using real-life addicts as actors playing heroin addicted jazz musicians waiting for a drug delivery. Finally the connection — Cowboy, a black man, arrives. Much to the junkies’ consternation, he has brought with him an elderly woman dressed in a pseudo-Salvation Army uniform (Cynthia Belgrave).
All 1980-81 Season productions: