‘A Soldier’s Play’ cast discusses the significance of the play’s revival

David Alan Grier, Blair Underwood and Jerry O’Connell open up about how “A Soldier’s Play” goes beyond being a simple murder mystery.
5:59 | 02/17/20

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Transcript for ‘A Soldier’s Play’ cast discusses the significance of the play’s revival
Shave a couple off. David, I went to opening night. Mm-hmm. I cannot begin to tell you how much I loved this play. We talked on opening night. We talked. I loved it so much. It's so powerful. I couldn't stop talking about it to whoopi and joy. It takes place in 1944 on a segregated army base in Louisiana. It focuses on the investigation into the murder of a black army sergeant whom you play. Yeah. Masterfully I might add. On the surface it's a murder mystery but it goes way beyond that. Yeah. I describe it as an inner racial who dunnit. It's all of the stuff that's within our race. You know, when I first saw the play in 1982, usually there was like one black voice, you know, who is the orator for all people of color. And to see all of these men, different shades, heights, hues arguing amongst themselves, everyone thinks they're philosophically, cultural. It's a rich room. It was a movie too, right? Yes. I've seen it. And he was in it. You look the same. Yes, of course. We're all in the same dressing room. Adolph was legendary. First of all, his mama named his Adolph Caesar, so you know you're already in trouble. So Blair, you play the officer assigned to investigate the murder. Right. At the base. Growing up your dad was an army colonel and you lived on different military bases across the country. That's right. So you were perfectly positioned to be in this play. I would hope so. It's amazing because you know, growing up in military bases we moved around a lot but I watched my father as this man, this human being, put on this uniform and it was rare. This was the '60s -- older than you. '60s and '70s but to have an African-American officer in the army was rare. So he was and is my hero. He's 87 years old. He came on opening night. Came on opening night. Yeah. Wasn't that a photograph of Yeah, that's right. And you embody that role. I mean, you embody that role. Thank you. Thank you for being so supportive. On opening night I took the bow and I don't really look at faces until the bow and I see sunny in the front row like ah. I was really blown away. And I ran up to you, Jerry, also. I was like, oh, my gosh, because you play the officer who bristles at a black officer of equal rank coming to his base, and I know that is so not you. Well, well -- But it was like -- it was just so out of character. I was blown away by the performance and you've actually said that this play is the most important project you've ever worked on but that it's been difficult for you at times. Well, I have to give a shoutout to our director, Kenny Leon, who is also very good friends to very soon to be one of our next presidents, Stacey Abrams. Yeah. He said early on in this process if you recall, he said, you know, I come on this show a lot and no offense to past projects I've worked on, usually I'm pushing a pretty dopey television show or something, you know. This is a little different. Mr. Leon said to us, this is going to be the most important thing you work on, and every night when we go out there I think he couldn't be more right. It's the most important thing I've ever worked on. You're terrific in it. I mean, I was blown away. Also, you know, one of the things that people forget is, you know, as a historical piece of information this is very important because oftentimes you'll see all these war movies on television and we're never present. Yeah. It's like we were just sitting around while stuff was happening, but these are the pieces that people need to know. This is the fabric of what America is and always has been. That's something that Charles fuller reiterated when the "Times" recently interviewed him. He said just what you were saying, that we've always fought and died and supported this country and it was very important for him and one of the motivations to write this play and go back to that history that few people know. Yeah. And it feels so relevant actually when you're watching but Blair, it's safe to say you have a dedicated female audience, female following. Is that safe to say? Safe to say. And you flash a bit of skin during the play. Oh. You do. David told me to do that. You're a damn liar. The crowd went so wild, I wasn't a part of it. I was watching you, sunny. You were like ah! That sounds like her. I was right in the front row. I'm like, why did they put me here? Does that throw you off because you rolled with it but I imagine it happens all the time. The first time -- My producer went to see it and said it happened her night too. The first time it threw me off. That was Kenny Leon, our director, because during rehearsal it says in the script that character Davenport is getting dressed. All during rehearsal I have two buttons undone because it's a long monologue. The last note he gave before we went to the theatre he said unbutton a couple more buttons. People in the audience might appreciate that. I'm like, I'm going to trust you, brother, because you're Kenny Leon. I didn't expect that the first time. Now I try to roll with it. Now you're enjoying it. I roll with it.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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