Shonda Rhimes, Jada Pinkett Smith, Gabrielle Union-Wade Sign on as Producers of Broadway's 'American Son'

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From left: Shonda Rhimes, Jada Pinkett Smith, Gabrielle Union-Wade

The drama about systemic racism in America begins performances Oct. 6, starring Kerry Washington, Steven Pasquale, Eugene Lee and Jeremy Jordan.

A handful of big names will bolster the ranks of Broadway producers for American Son, which marks Kerry Washington's return to the New York stage. 

Shonda Rhimes, Jada Pinkett Smith, Gabrielle Union-Wade and her husband, NBA star Dwyane Wade, have joined an existing team that includes Washington's Simpson Street, Jeffrey Richards, Rebecca Gold and Will Trice. Also newly on board is businessman Steve Stoute and NFL veteran-turned-actor and producer Nnamdi Asomugha, who is married to Washington.

The team of heavy hitters stands to draw added attention to Broadway newcomer Christopher Demos-Brown's intense four-character drama set in a Florida police station, where an estranged married couple converge in the middle of the night in a desperate search for their missing 18-year-old biracial son.

The play examines how we deal with family relationships, love, loss and identity. It won the 2016 Laurents/Hatcher Award for best new work by an emerging playwright.

The project marks the first major role for Washington since wrapping seven seasons as Olivia Pope on the Rhimes-produced ABC hit, Scandal. She stars as Kendra-Ellis Connor, the mother of the missing youth, opposite Steven Pasquale as her husband, FBI agent Scott Connor. Eugene Lee plays the tough black police lieutenant who takes charge of the incendiary situation, with Jeremy Jordan as the young white officer on night desk duty.

"Christopher Demos-Brown has written a play that delves deep into the big questions of who we are as a nation, by exploring the intimate relationships within a family caught at the crossroads of love, loss, identity and community," said Washington. "After reading the script I was immediately enthralled by the world of the play and the gripping circumstances that these characters are facing."

Kenny Leon, a Tony winner for the 2014 revival of A Raisin in the Sun that starred Denzel Washington, directs the production, which begins previews Oct. 6 at the Booth Theatre ahead of a Nov. 4 official opening. The 16-week limited engagement is scheduled to run through Jan. 27 and will be eligible for consideration in the 2019 Tony Awards.

American Son is the first Broadway project for the group joining the production, except for Jada Pinkett Smith, who served as a producer on the 2009 musical Fela! along with her husband, Will Smith.