Philadelphia Theatre Company concludes its 2009-2010 season with August Wilson's masterpiece and first Broadway success Ma Rainey's Black Bottom on May 21-June 13. Directed by Irene Lewis, who also serves as Artistic Director of Baltimore's CenterStage, with whom Philadelphia Theatre Company is co-producing Ma Rainey, the ensemble cast features the return of PTC favorite E. Faye Butler, joined by Ro Boddie, Thomas Jefferson Byrd, Toccarra Cash, David Fonteno, Merwin Goldsmith, Jeb Kreager, Maurice McRae, Laurence O'Dwyer, and Ernest Perry.
Previews begin Friday, May 21 with opening night on Wednesday, May 26. Performances run Tuesday through Sunday until June 13. Tickets are $46-59, with discounts for students, seniors and groups. Tickets are available by calling the PTC Box Office at 215-985-0420 or visiting PhiladelphiaTheatreCompany.org. Philadelphia Theatre Company's Suzanne Roberts Theatre is located at Broad and Lombard Streets.
Exploring the historic exploitation of black recording artists, delving deep into the heart of racism, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom is considered August Wilson's first major play and helped to cement his reputation as an important American playwright. Ma Rainey's Black Bottom is set in a 1920s Chicago recording studio where real-life blues legend Ma Rainey and her band have assembled along with Rainey's white agent and producer. Ma Rainey is Wilson's first play in a ten-play cycle, each chronicling a decade in the African-American experience, premiered at the Yale Repertory Theatre in 1984. It then moved to Broadway where it captured a slew of awards, including the 1985 New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play and Drama Desk and Tony nominations for Best Play. It received a revival in 2003 starring Whoopi Goldberg and Charles S. Dutton (in the role he had originated eight years earlier) and winning a Tony Award for Thomas Jefferson Boyd.
August Wilson (Playwright) authored Seven Guitars (PTC 1996), King Hedley II (PTC 2003), Gem of the Ocean, Joe Turner's Come and Gone, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, The Piano Lesson, Fences, Two Trains Running, Jitney, and Radio Golf. These works explore the heritage and experience of African-Americans, decade-by-decade, over the course of the 20th Century. His plays have been produced at regional theaters across the country and all over the world, as well as on Broadway. Wilson's works garnered many awards including Pulitzer Prizes for Fences (1987) and The Piano Lesson (1990); a Tony Award for Fences; Great Britain's Olivier Award for Jitney; as well as eight New York Drama Critics Circle Awards for Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, Fences, Joe Turner's Come and Gone, The Piano Lesson, Two Trains Running, Seven Guitars, Jitney, and Radio Golf. Additionally, the cast recording of Ma Rainey's Black Bottom received a 1985 Grammy Award, and Mr. Wilson received a 1995 Emmy Award nomination for his screenplay adaptation of The Piano Lesson.
Irene Lewis (Director) is the Artistic Director of CENTERSTAGE, where, during her 19 seasons, she has directed an extensive range of classic and contemporary plays from Shakespeare, Molière, and Chekhov to Wallace Shawn, August Wilson, and Israeli playwright Motti Lerner. Prior to CENTERSTAGE, she was Associate Artistic Director at Hartford Stage. Lewis has directed at many of the major regional theaters around the country, including Mark Taper Forum, Seattle Rep, Sundance, Berkeley Rep, Williamstown, New York Shakespeare Festival, Glimmerglass Opera, and Yale Rep. She has also been a guest faculty member and director at several universities, including Juilliard and New York University.