South Coast Repertory's (SCR) production of August Wilson's JITNEY, directed by Ron OJ Parson with an all-star cast led by Charlie Robinson, transfers to The Pasadena Playhouse immediately following its SCR engagement. Performances begin tonight, June 21 and run through July 15, with an official press opening on Sunday, June 24, 2012, at 5:00 p.m at The Pasadena Playhouse.
"The director and the SCR creative staff have brought together a fine and impressive group of actors for our shared production of this beautifully written play," stated Sheldon Epps, Artistic Director of The Pasadena Playhouse. "I look forward to having this cast on our stage and to the theatrical vitality that they will bring to August's compelling text. Along with our fine director, I know that this company will deliver this production of JITNEY with great success."
"JITNEY is a visceral play that succeeds on the strength of the ensemble," said SCR Artistic Director Marc Masterson. "I am particularly proud of the fine actors and designers who have assembled at SCR for this production under Ron's direction."
The full cast for JITNEY features (in alphabetical order):
• Larry Bates (SCR's Topdog/Underdog) as "Youngblood"
• Rolondo Boyce (Topdog/Underdog, Madison Repertory Theatre) as "Shealy"
• Gregg Daniel (SCR's Fences) as "Philmore"
• Kristy Johnson (Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, Court Theatre) as "Rena"
• David McNight (Desire Under the Elms, The Odyssey Theatre) as "Fielding"
• Charlie Robinson (SCR's Fences, "Night Court") as "Becker"
• Montae Russell ("Detroit 187," "ER") as "Booster"
• James A. Watson, Jr. (National Pastime, Fremont Center Theatre) as "Doub"
• Ellis Williams (Ovation Award winner Distant Fires) as "Turnbo"
In addition to director Ron OJ Parson (St. Louis Rep's Jitney), the creative team for JITNEY includes Shaun Motley as scenic designer, Brian Lilenthal as lighting designer, Vincent Olivieri as sound designer and Dana Woods as costumer designer.
JITNEY is the first play August Wilson wrote in his renowned "Pittsburgh Cycle" which chronicles the African-American experience in his childhood neighborhood, decade by decade, over the course of the 20th century. Of the ten plays in the "Cycle," JITNEY is the seventh in the series and is the winner of the New York Drama Critics Circle Award, the Outer Critics Circle Award and the Olivier Award for Best New Play. It is 1977 in Pittsburgh's Hill District – a neighborhood that legitimate cabs will not travel to. Out of these circumstances, unlicensed gypsy cabs – jitneys – emerge to drive the locals around town. The story unfolds in Becker's (Robinson) storefront jitney station where a motley crew share stories and meddle in each other's lives. But urban renewal now threatens to tear down the station and Becker's son Booster (Montae Russell) returns home after a 20-year stint in prison. Old cronies drop in, fights break out and lovers make up – and just as we get to know them, Wilson asks us to look again. The New York Times calls JITNEY "vibrant…velvety smooth," and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette says JITNEY is a "vivid mix of comedy and passion backed by a solid sociology of men struggling to survive…Wilson excels in the casual, expressive revelation of emotion under the drone of day-to-day."