John Amos, Star of Roots and Good Times, Coming to FringeNYC

By , Columnist
With hundreds of productions concentrated in a short period of time, Fringe Festivals can be overwhelming for theater-hounds, and the New York Fringe is certainly no exception. So when a major star appears in a Fringe show, the show can't help but stand out.

Over his four-decade career, actor John Amos has appeared on stage often enough, including touring in his own one-man play Halley's Comet as an 87-year-old man (Amos was actually born in 1939) who's been on this Earth long enough to see the famous comet twice.

But he's best known as one of America's most respected TV actors (Roots, Good Times, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The West Wing). In particular, his roles as the highly moral but under-employed James Evans on Good Times and as the older Kunta Kinte in Roots were seared into the memories of entire generations of Americans.

Amos will be appearing at the Fringe this summer in Felony Friday, the second installment of Scott Decker's Family Comes First trilogy. The play concerns a crime boss who is visited in jail - by a man he executed two days before.

Though Amos and co-star Esther Rolle became dissatisfied with Good Times and its increasingly frivolous storylines centered on their TV son J.J., the show, like All in the Family, dealt sensitively with many serious race- and class-related issues during its run and became one of the TV hits of the 1970s. It's no surprise that when Amos appears on a New York stage today it's in something that sounds - well - pretty serious.

"Some say that when you die, your whole life flashes before your eyes," intones a chilling voiceover on the show's website. "In prison, all you see are your sins."

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Jon Sobel is a freelance writer, web editor, theater and music critic, marketing writer, and musician. His newest project is the blog Park Odyssey, where he is visiting and blogging every park in New York City - over a thousand of them.

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