Sidney Poitier was the first Black performer to win a...

Sidney Poitier was the first Black performer to win a best actor Oscar. Credit: Getty Images/Evening Standard

Theater veterans Charles Randolph-Wright and Ruben Santiago-Hudson are adapting screen legend Sidney Poitier's autobiography "The Measure of a Man" into a Broadway play.

Variety on Tuesday said the new work, "Sidney," would dramatize the life of the 94-year-old actor — the first Black performer to receive the Oscar for best actor, for "Lilies of the Field" (1963) — from his youth in the Bahamas to his move to New York in his teens and his eventual stardom. Poitier's works include the films "Blackboard Jungle" (1955), "In the Heat of the Night" and "To Sir, with Love" (both 1967) and the 1991 TV miniseries "Separate but Equal," for which he earned one of his two Emmy nominations, for playing future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.

The play has the support of the Poitier family, which selected playwright-director Randolph-Wright and actor-writer-director Santiago-Hudson, both 65, "to write and direct the production," Variety reported. The trade magazine did not specify if they were co-writing and co-directing or writing and directing separately.

Santiago-Hudson earned a Tony Award nomination for directing the 2017 drama "Jitney" and won for best featured actor in a play for 1996's "Seven Guitars." He directs playwright Dominique Morisseau's upcoming "Skeleton Crew," which stars Phylicia Rashad and begins previews Dec. 21 for a limited run from Jan. 12 to Feb. 20 at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre.

Randolph-Wright, whose work as a playwright includes the Arena Stage original production "Blue," is director of the current Alice Childress drama "Trouble in Mind," which ends its limited run at the American Airlines Theatre on Jan. 9.

In a statement to Variety, Randoph-Wright said, in part, "The first time I met Sidney Poitier was decades ago when he saw a show I co-wrote and directed in Los Angeles. We went to dinner and I literally could not speak. He said to me, 'If in any way I have inspired you, you have more than paid me back with what I saw this evening.' I have held onto those words my entire career. And now to place his astonishing life on stage is the ultimate challenge and the ultimate joy.

Santiago-Hudson in a statement called Poitier "clearly one of the greatest actors in the history of cinema. His integrity and standard of excellence set the bar for generations to come. It is an honor to be a part of celebrating the incomparable Sidney Poitier's monumental career in this play but also the man and his extraordinary life."

The "Sidney" producers include one of Poitier's daughters, Anika Poitier, who has been a filmmaker and in 2014 co-founded the home furnishings firm ASP & Company. She is one of Poitier's two children with his second wife, actor Joanna Shimkus.

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