Butler will lead the cast of Rodgers & Hammerstein's "Oklahoma!" in the Arena Stage company's renovated Fichandler Stage, while Rashad will appear in the world premiere of playwright Marcus Gardley's "Every Tongue Confess" in the new 200-seat Arlene and Robert Kogod Cradle, and Smith will star in her one-woman play, Second Stage's production of "Let Me Down Easy," which begins its national tour in the freshly refurbished Kreeger Theater.
"To open the Mead Center with amazing casts including actors like Phylicia, Anna and E. Faye is just one of the many ways we're introducing audiences to the breadth and strength of this new center for American theater," Artistic Director Molly Smith said in a statement Tuesday. "These distinguished African-American women, whose illustrious careers precede them, along with the cast members joining them, embody the diversity that is integral to Arena's mission."
Founded in 1950, Arena Stage, based in Washington, is one of the largest theaters in the country dedicated to American plays and playwrights.
The shows are scheduled to take place during the upcoming fall-winter season.