Phylicia Rashad directing 'The Roommate' at Steppenwolf Theatre

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Phylicia Rashad is currently at Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre directing a new play. (WLS)

Phylicia Rashad is currently at Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre directing a new play.

Rashad is also known as the first African American to win a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play and she's familiar as Clair Huxtable from eight seasons in The Cosby Show.

Wednesday was a tech rehearsal day for Steppenwolf's dark comedy "The Roommate." A two-person female play - and one female director - Phylicia Rashad. The show is a dark, edgy Odd Couple-type comedy.

"Two women of a certain age who appear to be very different. And are brought together by corresponding needs, that's the way I describe it. And what happens after that is unexpected," Director and Actress Phylicia Rashad.

Rashad is no stranger to Steppenwolf. She has acted in ensemble productions in New York and last year was bestowed the company's Women in the Arts honor.

But being asked to direct here....

"I have to say I was just floored. Truth be told I am floored when anybody asks me to direct anything," she said. When asked why, "Because I am, I just am."

Despite a long acting career on stage it's still the role as TV Mom Clair Huxtable that will be identified with her. Rashad takes no questions about her former co-star but is grateful for opportunities and realistic about outcomes.

"I didn't expect a television show, I didn't expect a lot of things that happened. It's been our watchword. Our rule, you never know what's coming. Be prepared, be open and be prepared," Rashad said.

Next time, perhaps she would be prepared to perform on the Steppenwolf stage.

"I would do it in a heartbeat. Yes I would. This is one of those most prestigious theatres in the country. I don't even live in Chicago I find myself here and I think it's pretty amazing," she said.

The Roommate runs through August 5. It closes out the 42nd season of this award-winning Chicago theatre company.
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