PTC Presents MA RAINEY'S BLACK BOTTOM 5/21-6/13

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PTC Presents MA RAINEY'S BLACK BOTTOM 5/21-6/13

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.

Ro Boddie (Sylvester) recently received a Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Ensemble in Forum Theatre's Angels in America: Millennium Approaches and Angels in America. He is currently a BFA candidate at University of North Carolina of the Arts where he has appeared in Gem of the Ocean, Othello, The Trojan Women, and Our Country's Good.

Thomas Jefferson Boyd (Toledo) recreates the role which won him a Tony nomination and Theatre World Award on Broadway. Regionally, he has appeared in Death of a Salesman at Yale Repertory Theatre, Crowns as both Portland Center Stage and Arizona Theatre Company, as well as several productions at Indiana Rep, San Diego Rep and Alliance Theatre. On film he has been seen in Ray, Bulworth, Clockers, Lachawanna Blues, and MacArthur Park.

E. Faye Butler (Ma Rainey) won a Barrymore Award for her performance in PTC's production of the musical Dinah Was. She is also the winner of six Joseph Jefferson Awards and four nominations; three Black Theatre Awards; one Helen Hayes Award and three nominations; and an Excellence in the Arts Award given by the DePaul Alumni Association. She was featured in the national tours of Mamma Mia, Dinah Was and Ain't Misbehavin'. Regionally she has starred in Caroline or Change at CenterStage and Court Theatre, Ella at Northlight and Dallas Theatre Center, Ain't Misbehavin' and Purlie at Goodman Theatre, Crowns at Arena Stage, and The Wiz at LaJolla Playhouse.

Toccarra Cash (Dussie Mae) has appeared in the world premiere of Quindaro at H&R Block City Stage in Kansas City as well as Intimate Apparel at Unicorn Theatre and We Are Antigone at Alliance Theatre. She has also been featured in several productions at Kansas City Repertory Theatre and University of Missouri's Kansas City Performing Arts Center.

David Fonteno (Cutler) was featured in Hapgood at Lincoln Center Theatre and Distant First and Force Continuum, both with Atlantic Theatre Company. Regionally he has appeared in several productions at Crossroads Theatre, Pittsburgh Public Theatre, Long Wharf Theatre, George Street Playhouse, and Cincinnati Playhouse. Supporting film roles include Morning Glory, Devil in a Blue Dress, and Death Wish IV. He has had recurring roles on One Life to Live, Third Watch, Guiding Life, Santa Barbara and Search for Tomorrow, and has guest starred on The Wire, The Good Wife and Law & Order.

Merwin Goldsmith (Irvin) has appeared on Broadway in 70 Girls 70, Grand Hotel, Me and My Girl, and Minnie's Boys, and Off-Broadway in Two Thousand Years, Beau Jest, An Imaginary Life and After Play. Film credits include Company Man, Quiz Show, Cadillac Man, Making Mr. Right, Rounders and So Fine. Regionally, he has been featured at The Wilma Theater, Goodman Theatre, Syracuse Stage, Long Wharf Theatre and Paper Mill Playhouse.

Jeb Kreager (Policeman) won a Barrymore Award for Outstanding Leading Actor in InterAct Theatre Company's production of Frozen and has received three Barrymore Award nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actor in Theatre Exile's Mr. Marmalade, People's Light & Theatre Company's The Foreigner, and 1812 Production's Recent Tragic Events as well as a Barrymore Award nomination for Outstanding Ensemble in Stupor with New Paradise Laboratories. He was a two-time finalist for the F. Otto Haas Award for an Emerging Artist. Locally he has also appeared at Delaware Theatre Company, Walnut Street Theatre and Arden Theatre Company.

Maurice McRae (Levee) appeared Off-Broadway at the Peccadillo Theatre Company in All God's Chillun Got Wings. He has also performed at LA Center Theatre in the West Coast premiere of A House with No Walls as and Whitefire Theatre, Long Beach Playhouse, Lillian Theatre and Harmon Theatre. His television credits include 24, JAG and Guiding Light.

Laurence O'Dwyer (Sturdyvant) is an Associate Artist at CenterStage where he has appeared in numerous productions. Nominated for a Helen Hayes Award for The Fantasticks at Arena Stage and winner of the 2009 Best Actor Award from Baltimore Magazine, he has been a frequent guest at Goodman Theatre, Dallas Theater Center, McCarter Theatre, Yale Repertory Theatre and Washington Shakespeare Theatre.

Ernest Perry (Slow Drag) was last seen in Philadelphia at Arden Theatre Company in Fences. He has appeared in numerous productions at Goodman Theatre, Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Cleveland Playhouse, Actor's Theatre Of Louisville, and LaJolla Playhouse. Film credits include The Color of Money, Rage in Harlem and Liar, Liar. On television he has been featured on Early Edition, E/R, The Untouchables and Lady Blues.

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom introduces PTC audiences to a creative team of William Foster McDaniel - music director; Riccardo Hernandez - set designer; Candice Donnelly - costume designer; Rui Rita -lighting designer; and David Budries - sound designer.

Founded in 1974, PTC is a leading regional theater company whose mission today is to produce, develop and present entertaining and imaginative contemporary theater focused on the American experience that both ignites the intellect and touches the soul. Sara Garonzik has been the company's Producing Artistic Director since 1982, and in 2007, Diane Claussen became its Managing Director. Philadelphia Theatre Company continues to experience ever-increasing national impact, having produced 34 world premieres of new American plays and musicals in its 34 seasons. Recent world premiere productions include: Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins, both Golden Age and Unusual Acts of Devotion by Terrence McNally; The Happiness Lecture by Bill Irwin; Nerds://A Musical Software Satire by Jordan Allen-Dutton, Erik Weiner, and HAl Goldberg; Some Men by Terrence McNally (later produced at the Second Stage); Adrift in Macao, a musical by Christopher Durang and Peter Melnick (produced at Primary Stages); Bruce Graham's According to Goldman; Jeffrey Hatcher's A Picasso (later produced at Manhattan Theatre Club); Daniel Stern's comedy Barbra's Wedding (moved to the Westside Arts Theatre in 2003); John Henry Redwood's No Niggers, No Jews, No Dogs (later produced at Primary Stages); J.T. Rogers' White People; David Ives' Lives of the Saints; three-time Tony Award-winning Master Class by Terrence McNally, starring Zoe Caldwell; Bunny Bunny by Alan Zweibel (Lucille Lortel Award, 1997); and the American premiere of Birdy by Naomi Wallace, among others.

Philadelphia Theatre Company is Philadelphia's only not-for-profit professional theater dedicated exclusively to producing world and regional premieres of works by contemporary American Playwrights. Sara Garonzik has been the company's Producing Artistic Director since 1982, and in 2007, Diane Claussen became its Managing Director. Philadelphia Theatre Company continues to experience ever-increasing national impact, having produced 34 world premieres of new American plays and musicals in its 34 seasons. Recent world premiere productions include: Unusual Acts of Devotion by Terrence McNally; The Happiness Lecture by Bill Irwin; Nerds://A Musical Software Satire by Jordan Allen-Dutton, Erik Weiner, and HAl Goldberg; Some Men by Terrence McNally (later produced at the Second Stage); Adrift in Macao, a musical by Christopher Durang and Peter Melnick (produced at Primary Stages); Bruce Graham's According to Goldman; Jeffrey Hatcher's A Picasso (later produced at Manhattan Theatre Club); Daniel Stern's comedy Barbra's Wedding (moved to the Westside Arts Theatre in 2003); John Henry Redwood's No Niggers, No Jews, No Dogs (later produced at Primary Stages); J.T. Rogers' White People; David Ives' Lives of the Saints; three-time Tony Award-winning Master Class by Terrence McNally, starring Zoe Caldwell; Bunny Bunny by Alan Zweibel (Lucille Lortel Award, 1997); and the American premiere of Birdy by Naomi Wallace, among others.

Philadelphia Theatre Company has received numerous "Best Theater Company" citations from media sources such as the Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Magazine, Philadelphia Weekly, Philadelphia Style Magazine, and Philadelphia City Paper. Since 1995, Philadelphia Theatre Company has received 135 nominations and 36 awards from Philadelphia's Barrymore Awards.

PTC is in its third season in its home, the Suzanne Roberts Theatre, designed by the award-winning firm of KieranTimberlake Associates LLP. This state-of-the-art venue on Philadelphia's Avenue of the Arts was built as the result of an innovative partnership between PTC and Philadelphia developer Carl Dranoff. The project promotes the city's leading arts district both regionally and nationally and represents a model for civic development that capitalizes on the ability of the arts to reinvigorate urban districts for residential and commercial revival.

For further information on Philadelphia Theatre Company, call 215-985-0420 or visit PhiladelphiaTheatreCompany.org.

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