NEW YORK – When theater makers find the right chemistry, they like to partner again and again. And when they just happen to be married for a long time, the work can turn out even better.
At least that’s the case for the couple CBS 2’s Dave Carlin introduces us to.
These two love making theater and they love each other. They were college sweethearts and are now married with a son, and they are each other’s favorite collaborator.
For their latest joint project Crystal Dickinson is the star, and husband Brandon J. Dirden directs. They’re teaming up for Two River Theater’s production of “Wine in the Wilderness” by Alice Childress.
The play is set in 1964 in Harlem. There is romance for Dickinson’s character with an artist painting her portrait.
The play goes deep to examine identity and acceptance.
“What do you present, and what do people think when I see you? And this opens up that question, what are you really looking at when you look at a person, what do you see? Could you be wrong is there something you’re missing,” Dickinson said.
Two River Theater in Red Bank, New Jersey is a top talent showcase mounting challenging productions. Dickinson and Dirden were paired on stage in the Theater’s 2017 revival of “A Raisin in The Sun.”
Dickinson’s many credits include “Clybourne Park” in 2010, in the original Broadway cast. Dirden appears in “Take Me Out.” While acting on Broadway, he’s directing in Red Bank.
So it’s back to Broadway for Dirden, who for now simultaneously works in New York City and New Jersey. It’s chaotic, but it’s a nice problem to have, he says.
“The one thing I keep saying about Red Bank is that it’s living proof great art is everywhere,” Dirden said.
“We live in West Orange,” Dickinson said. “I’m a Jersey girl. I was born and raised in New Jersey… I could be an advocate all day for New Jersey.”
It is Dirden’s 10th season with Two River theater, and he says when you can see any play by the late, great Childress, you do it.
“I think it’s a love story for humanity. It’s a love story that Alice Childress has with the community, and it teaches us how to be more in love with ourselves how to love others more fully,” Dirden said.
“Wine in the Wilderness” runs through November 6th.