Theatre Information

Royale Theatre (New York, NY)
242 W. 45th St.

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Blues diva Ma Rainey and her band have come to a Chicago studio to cut a record, but their artistic differences nearly stop the session before it starts. Full of unforgettable characters and the raw power of the blues, this 1920s installment of Wilson's groundbreaking cycle of plays confronts the issues of race, fame, and generational divides through the rhythms of the African-American South.



August Wilson (1945-2005) The most-produced African-American playwright of all time, August Wilson was a self-taught writer whose distinctive style combined poeticism and everyday slang. The plays of his remarkable Pittsburgh Cycle chronicled the black experience in America in every decade of the 20thcentury, winning two Pulitzer Prizes and redefining African-American storytelling for a generation of theatergoers.


Wilson Cycle THE PIANO LESSON Webcast Airs 9/9
by Pat Cerasaro - Sep 9, 2013

Actor/director and noted August Wilson interpreter Ruben Santiago-Hudson directs a revival staging of Wilson's Pulitzer Prize-winning THE PIANO LESSON tonight as part of a live webcast series presenting the ten 20th century cycle plays by the two-time Pulitzer-winner, following successful presentations of Ma Rainey's Black Bottom and FENCES last month as well as JOE TURNER'S COME AND GONE last week. (more...)

BWW Review: SEVEN GUITARS at Actors Theatre of Louisville
by Keith Waits - Sep 7, 2015

I am always excited by the opportunity to see an August Wilson play. Only Actors Theatre has managed to deliver them to Louisville audiences, the most recent having been an outstanding production of Ma Rainey's Black Bottom in 2010. Now we have Seven Guitars to feast upon. (more...)

Wilson Cycle JOE TURNER'S COME AND GONE Live Webcast Airs 9/4
by Pat Cerasaro - Sep 4, 2013

Esteemed stage and screen star and noted August Wilson proponent/performer Phylicia Rashad stages a revival of Wilson's acclaimed drama JOE TURNER'S COME AND GONE tonight as part of a live webcast series presenting the ten 20th century cycle plays by the two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner, following successful presentations of Ma Rainey's Black Bottom and FENCES last month. (more...)

Photo Flash: First Look at Portland Stage's MA RAINEY'S BLACK BOTTOM
by BWW News Desk - Sep 30, 2013

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom by August Wilson runs now through October 20, 2013 at Portland Stage. BroadwayWorld has a first look at the cast in action below! (more...)

BWW Reviews: Portland Stage Cries the Blues in MA RAINEY'S BLACK BOTTOM
by Carla Maria Verdino-SŁllwold - Sep 30, 2013

'Blues are a way of understanding,' Ma Rainey tells her band in the second act of August Wilson's 1984 play set in a 1920s recording studio in Jim Crow era Chicago. And, indeed, Wilson uses music as a means of making sense of the African-American experience in a world scarred by racism and violence. The Portland Stage's new production, which opens its 2013-2014 season, is a tautly directed, intensely acted interpretation of Wilson's meditation on what it is like to be black in a white man's world. The play, which uses the a quasi-musical blues structure of long, seemingly improvised solos interspersed with short rhythmic exchanges of dialogue, builds slowly and tensely to its chilling climax. Along the way, it penetrates the recesses of the musicians' hearts, their troubled pasts and their tenuous presents. And it examines the high cost of 'making it' in white America, where, for all their artistic talent and success, these determined entertainers remain faceless and invisible. Delivering Wilson's prose with an engaging blend of humor and pathos, the Portland Stage Company's cast scales the poetic heights of the playwright's genius. (more...)

Now Playing Onstage in Maine - Week of 9/29/2013
by BWW - Sep 29, 2013

Upcoming Shows - Week of 9/29/2013 for Maine (more...)

Now Playing Onstage in Maine - Week of 9/22/2013
by BWW - Sep 22, 2013

Upcoming Shows - Week of 9/22/2013 for Maine (more...)

Wilson Cycle JITNEY Webcast Airs 9/16
by Pat Cerasaro - Sep 16, 2013

Actor/director and noted August Wilson interpreter Ruben Santiago-Hudson directs a revival staging of Wilson's JITNEY tonight as part of a live webcast series presenting the ten 20th century cycle plays by the two-time Pulitzer-winner, following successful presentations of Ma Rainey's Black Bottom and FENCES last month as well as JOE TURNER'S COME AND GONE and THE PIANO LESSON so far this month. (more...)

BWW Reviews: August Wilson's SEVEN GUITARS Strums at No Rules Theatre Co.
by Keith Tittermary - Sep 15, 2014

The late August Wilson is one of America's greatest playwrights. From the early 1980s up until his death in 2005, Wilson wrote 10 plays, each encompassing African American life in a different decade focusing on the same Pittsburgh neighborhood, with Ma Rainey's Black Bottom being the sole play to occur outside of Pittsburgh. These 10 plays when put together are known as The Pittsburgh Cycle or Century Cycle, and is considered some of the 10 best plays ever written by an American playwright. (more...)

Now Playing Onstage in Maine - Week of 9/15/2013
by BWW - Sep 15, 2013

Upcoming Shows - Week of 9/15/2013 for Maine (more...)

The Ensemble Theatre to Celebrate August Wilson with Series of Staged Readings
by BWW News Desk - Oct 9, 2015

The Ensemble Theatre and Artistic Director Eileen J. Morris celebrate of Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson's 10-play cycle with a series of staged readings beginning October 19, 2015 - July 18, 2016. (more...)

Now Playing Onstage in Maine - Week of 10/06/2013
by BWW - Oct 6, 2013

Upcoming Shows - Week of 10/06/2013 for Maine (more...)

Nashville Theater Calendar 10/26/15
by Jeffrey Ellis - Oct 26, 2015

Sometimes it seems there is so much theater happening that it's difficult to keep track of it all. From personal experience, despite all the datebooks, smart phones, tablets, desktop computers and laptops...it's hard to keep everything straight in this wacky business of the show. (more...)

Now Playing Onstage in Maine - Week of 10/13/2013
by BWW - Oct 13, 2013

Upcoming Shows - Week of 10/13/2013 for Maine (more...)

BWW's On This Day - October 11, 2015
by - Oct 11, 2015

Here are the Broadway, Off-Broadway and West End shows which opened on October 11 along with all of the upcoming show openings, closings and special events! (more...)

Fashion Designer Niiamar Felder Nominated For Audelco Award For Best Costume Design
by BWW News Desk - Nov 16, 2012

Fashion Designer, Niiamar Felder has been nominated for an Audelco Award for Best Costume Design for the Off-Broadway production of Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, by August Wilson. The 40th Annual Audelco Awards will be presented on Monday, November 19th at the Peter Jay Sharp Theatre in New York City. (more...)

New Haarlem Arts Theatre Sets Second Season: MA RAINEY'S BLACK BOTTOM, SWEET CHARITY and More
by BWW News Desk - May 4, 2012

This summer, New Haarlem Arts Theatre (NHAT), the professional theater company of City College of New York (CCNY), has expanded its programming and will present mainstage productions of 'Ma Rainey's Black Bottom' and 'Sweet Charity,' as well as a show for young audiences and a readings series. The theater, led by Eugene Nesmith, is entering its second season and will again be in residence at Aaron Davis Hall, located at W. 135th Street and Convent Avenue, Manhattan (Hamilton Heights). (more...)

Upcoming Equity Auditions Sunday, May. 29
by Audition Roundup - May 29, 2016

Updated this week! Check out upcoming Equity Auditions from Sunday, May 29, 2016 for both productions in your area and around the country including what/when/where and how to audition! (more...)

NHAT to Open Season With MA RAINEY'S BLACK BOTTOM, 6/14-7/8
by BWW News Desk - May 10, 2012

New Haarlem Arts Theatre (NHAT), the professional theater company of City College of New York (CCNY), will open its second season June 14 to July 8 with 'Ma Rainey's Black Bottom' by August Wilson, directed by Eugene Nesmith and starring Johnnie Mae as Ma. (more...)

Now Playing Onstage in Memphis - Week of 3/03/2013
by BWW - Mar 3, 2013

Upcoming Shows - Week of 3/03/2013 for Memphis (more...)

Penumbra Theatre Company's THE AMEN CORNER at the Guthrie to Feature Greta Oglesby, Eric Berryman and More
by BWW News Desk - Mar 29, 2012

On the heels of successful presentations of Gem of the Ocean, A Raisin in the Sun and Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, the Guthrie Theater welcomes back the acclaimed Penumbra Theatre Company for The Amen Corner-an uplifting and masterful drama written by celebrated playwright and novelist James Baldwin and directed by Penumbra Founder and Artistic Director Lou Bellamy. (more...)

James T. Alfred and Erika LaVonn Star in Penumbra's THE MOUNTAINTOP at the Guthrie, Beg. Tonight
by BWW News Desk - Mar 28, 2014

On the heels of successful presentations of A Raisin in the Sun, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom and The Amen Corner, the Guthrie Theater welcomes the return of the acclaimed Penumbra Theatre Company with The Mountaintop - the recipient of the 2010 Olivier Award for Best New Play - written by Katori Hall and directed by Penumbra Founder and Co-Artistic Director Lou Bellamy. The Mountaintop begins performances tonight, March 28 and continues through April 19. (more...)

BWW Reviews: Huntington Hits For the Cycle With MA RAINEY
by Nancy Grossman - Mar 25, 2012

The Huntington Theatre Company's production of Ma Rainey's Black Bottom completes August Wilson's Century Cycle, ten plays that reflect the African-American experience in America by the decade throughout the 20th century. Yvette Freeman (NBC's ER) is a force of nature in the title role, and local actor Jason Bowen captivates as the hotheaded young trumpeter who personifies the Zeitgeist. (more...)

Callie Crossley and Eric Jackson to Speak at Huntington Theatre Co's 'WGBH Day,' 3/24
by BWW News Desk - Mar 23, 2012

In conjunction with the Huntington Theatre Company's production of Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson's first Broadway hit, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, WGBH 89.7 FM's "Jazz with Eric in the Evening" host Eric Jackson and "The Callie Crossley Show" host Callie Crossley will discuss the social and musical history depicted in the play in a post-show conversation on Saturday, March 24 immediately following the 2pm performance. (more...)

BWW Exclusive: August Wilson in Waterford
by National Theater Institute - Mar 2, 2015

Tony- and Pulitzer-winning playwright August Wilson developed six plays the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center: Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, Fences, Seven Guitars, Joe Turner's Come and Gone, The Piano Lesson, and Two Trains Running. In celebration of the PBS American Masters documentary 'August Wilson: The Ground on Which I Stand', RISK AGAIN! shares excerpts from The O'Neill: Transformation of Modern American Theater. (more...)

Photo Flash: First Look at Yvette Freeman, et al. in HTC's MA RAINEY'S BLACK BOTTOM
by BWW News Desk - Mar 16, 2012

As part of its 30th Anniversary Season celebration, the Huntington Theatre Company brings August Wilson's Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. Click below to view the production shots! (more...)

Now Playing Onstage in Memphis - Week of 3/10/2013
by BWW - Mar 10, 2013

Upcoming Shows - Week of 3/10/2013 for Memphis (more...)

BWW Review: MA RAINEY'S BLACK BOTTOM Shows Wilson's Legacy as a Playwright
by Paul Batterson - Jun 6, 2016

Not all theatre is designed to be an escape, a refuge from our ordinary lives. Every once-in-a-while a piece comes along that not only entertains us but makes us think. When those two elements come together, you've really got something special. (more...)

Photo Coverage: First look at Short North Stage's MA RAINEY's BLACK BOTTOM
by Jerri Shafer - Jun 3, 2016

production of this searing drama. The play is set in a run-down recording studio in Chicago in 1927. The legendary 'Mother of Blues,' Ma Rainey, is due to arrive to record a new take on a favorite song. Ma uses every trick she can muster to fight her white record producer for control of her music. Hardened by years of ill-treatment and bad deals, she's determined that 'Black Bottom', the song that bears her name, will be recorded her way. But one of her band members, a swaggering young trumpet player, tries to manipulate the producer to record instead his new hip version of the song. A battle ensues. This masterpiece is a riveting portrayal of racism, of the self-hate that racism breeds, and of racial exploitation. (more...)

'LADY DAY' & PECONG Set for Bayou Theatre Company's Third Season
by BWW News Desk - Jun 21, 2016

The Bayou Theatre Company returns with its third season entitled 'The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: Exploring the Complexities of Womanhood'. With a season focused on female-centered stories, the season will open with Lanie Robertson's riveting one woman play with music LADY DAY AT THE EMERSON'S BAR AND GRILL, followed by PECONG by Steve Carter, a resetting of the myth of Medea. (more...)

NHAT Opens Season with MA RAINEY'S BLACK BOTTOM, Now thru 7/8
by BWW News Desk - Jun 14, 2012

New Haarlem Arts Theatre (NHAT), the professional theater company of City College of New York (CCNY), will open its second season tonight, June 14 through July 8 with 'Ma Rainey's Black Bottom' by August Wilson, directed by Eugene Nesmith and starring Johnnie Mae as Ma. (more...)

BWW Preview: MA RAINEY'S BLACK BOTTOM Mixes Lighthearted Music with Deeper Themes
by Hannah Herner - Jun 1, 2016

The Green Room of the Garden Theater will soon be filled with fun 1920's music along with conflict and heavy themes. (more...)

Revised Preview Date For MA RAINEY'S BLACK BOTTOM at Taper
by BWW News Desk - Jul 27, 2016

Previews Now Begin September 1, 2016 Phylicia Rashad, who directed Wilson's "Joe Turner's Come and Gone" at "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" Directed by Phylicia Rashad. the Taper in 2013, will direct this groundbreaking play which depicts the racism and exploitation in the music industry through a 1927 recording session in Chicago with a legendary blues singer. "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" is inspired by the real-life Gertrude "Ma" Rainey. (more...)

Lillias White to Star in MA RAINEY'S BLACK BOTTOM, Directed by Phylicia Rashad in Los Angeles
by BWW News Desk - Jul 21, 2016

Center Theatre Group has announced the casting for August Wilson's 'Ma Rainey's Black Bottom' which begins previews August 31, opens September 11 and continues through October 16, 2016, at the Mark Taper Forum. (more...)

Arnetia Walker, Michael Cumpsty and More Set for MA RAINEY'S BLACK BOTTOM at Two River Theater
by BWW News Desk - Jul 21, 2016

Two River Theater announces the cast and creative team for its production of August Wilson's Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson. The production will run September 10-October 9, 2016, with the opening night on Friday, September 16 at 8pm. (more...)

Open Stage of Harrisburg Will Present JOE TURNER'S COME AND GONE, 2/1-23
by BWW News Desk - Jan 9, 2013

Open Stage of Harrisburg Executive Artistic Director Donald Alsedek directs another installment of August Wilson's acclaimed Century Cycle of plays exploring the Black experience in America Following at the intimate Angino Family Theatre. Following last year's triumph with Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, Alsedek takes on August Wilson's African-American epic, JOE TURNER'S COME AND GONE. The production opens February 1 and closes February 23. Evening performances Thursday to Saturdays are at 8:00pm and Sunday matinees are at 2:00pm. (more...)

Liesl Tommy Returns for Huntington's A RAISIN IN THE SUN, Opening 3/8
by BWW News Desk - Jan 31, 2013

Fifty-four years after its Broadway premiere, the Huntington Theatre Company presents A Raisin in the Sun, Lorraine Hansberry's landmark family classic about deferred dreams. Liesl Tommy (Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, Ruined - IRNE Award for Best Director and Production) returns to the Huntington to helm the production that features Leroy McClain (the title role in Hamlet at California Shakespeare Theater) as Walter Lee Younger and Kimberly Scott (Molly Cunningham in Joe Turner's Come and Gone - Tony and Drama Desk Award nominations) as matriarch Lena Younger. (more...)

BWW's On This Day - February 6, 2016
by - Feb 6, 2016

Here are the Broadway, Off-Broadway and West End shows which opened on February 6 along with all of the upcoming show openings, closings and special events! (more...)

James T. Alfred and Erika LaVonn to Star in Penumbra's THE MOUNTAINTOP at the Guthrie; Cast Announced!
by BWW News Desk - Feb 5, 2014

On the heels of successful presentations of A Raisin in the Sun, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom and The Amen Corner, the Guthrie Theater welcomes the return of the acclaimed Penumbra Theatre Company with The Mountaintop - the recipient of the 2010 Olivier Award for Best New Play - written by Katori Hall and directed by Penumbra Founder and Co-Artistic Director Lou Bellamy. The Mountaintop begins performances on March 28 and continues through April 19. (more...)

Atlantic For Kids to Stage R&B Musical MR. CHICKEE'S FUNNY MONEY, 4/12-5/4
by BWW News Desk - Feb 27, 2014

Atlantic Theater Company and Atlantic for Kids is tuning up to present the New York premiere of Mr. Chickee's Funny Money, an all-new, rhythm and blues family musical, featuring music and lyrics that groove to an original score by Motown legend Lamont Dozier (hits include Stop in the Name of Love, Sugar Pie Honey Bun, How Sweet it Is, more;) and his son, Paris Dozier, with a book by David Ingber (Major League Baseball Fan Cave), directed by Jade King Carroll (Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, Portland Stage), and musical supervision by Brian Usifer (Kinky Boots, Book of Mormon). (more...)

Now Playing Onstage in Memphis - Week of 2/24/2013
by BWW - Feb 24, 2013

Upcoming Shows - Week of 2/24/2013 for Memphis (more...)

STAGE TO SCREEN: Broadway Stars in Prime Time Tonight!
by BWW Special Coverage - Feb 21, 2013

Here are some of the familiar Broadway faces appearing in prime time tonight (Thursday, February 21, 2013)! (more...)

STAGE TO SCREEN: Broadway Stars in Prime Time Tonight!
by BWW Special Coverage - Feb 19, 2013

Here are some of the familiar Broadway faces appearing in prime time tonight (Tuesday, February 19)! (more...)

Huntington Announces Breaking Ground Reading of ADEkoje's (SHOE) SHINE SAFARI, 12/11
by BWW News Desk - Dec 10, 2012

Huntington Theatre Company will hold a by-invitation-only Breaking Ground developmental reading of (Shoe) Shine Safari by Huntington Playwriting Fellow John Oluwole ADEkoje (Cry Baby Jones) on Tuesday, December 11 at 7:30pm at the Huntington's Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA. Niegel Smith (Neighbors at The Public Theater) directs a cast that includes: Stephen Tyrone Williams as Shoe Shine; Johnny Lee Davenport (Vengeance is the Lord's and the upcoming Invisible Man at the Huntington) as Driver/Father; Robert D. Murphy as Lincoln Douglas; Joniece Abbott-Pratt (Ma Rainey's Black Bottom at the Huntington) as Amina; Reg Cathey as General Butt Naked/Big House/Rebel 1; James Milford as Rebel 2; and others. (more...)

STAGE TUBE: Directors Hudson, Rashad and More Talk August Wilson Live Recordings
by Stage Tube - Aug 23, 2013

August WilsonFor the very first time, the Estate of August Wilson has granted an organization the rights to record all 10 of these works. Kicking off on Monday, August 26 with 'Ma Rainey's Black Bottom,' The Greene Space - the performance venue of public radio stations WNYC and WQXR -- will stage these readings before live audiences, and will make them present them as live video webcasts for viewers everywhere at www.thegreenespace.org. Ruben Santiago-Hudson, one of the leading interpreters of Wilson's work, is Artistic Director. The series has assembled a formidable group of 'Wilson Warriors' including Phylicia Rashad, S. Epatha Merkerson, Kenny Leon, Leslie Uggams, Anthony Chisholm and many others, along with Wilson first-timers including Taraji P. Hensonand Jesse L. Martin. Click below to watch interviews with the directors! (more...)

Whoopi Goldberg to Return to GLEE; Larsen, Newell to Also Recur
by TV News Desk - Aug 17, 2012

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Whoopi Goldberg will appear in the fourth season of GLEE as a 'special guest star,' reprising her role of Carmen Tibideaux, dean of the fictional New York Academy of Dramatic Arts. Glee Project Season 1 winners Samuel Larson and Alex Newell will also recur on the new season. (more...)

BWW TV: First Look at Naomi Jacobson, Sameerah Luqmaan-Harris and More in Highlights of MARY T. & LIZZY K.
by BroadwayWorld TV - Apr 8, 2013

Tazewell Thompson's world premiere drama Mary T. & Lizzy K. throws open the doors to the Lincoln White House at Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater. As one woman's skilled hands work overtime, creating the most beautiful garments of her career, the other's reality continues to slip ever further from her grasp. Old wounds and new recriminations explode in this riveting drama about loss, love and the importance of promises, both kept and broken. BroadwayWorld has highlights of the production below. (more...)

August Wilson's Boyhood Home To Be Renovated Into An Arts Center
by Michael Dale - Apr 28, 2016

The building where the great playwright spent the first thirteen years of his life had been in a state of ruin. (more...)

BWW Reviews: Black Rep's Excellent Production of MA RAINEY'S BLACK BOTTOM
by Chris Gibson - Apr 25, 2012

Revisiting a popular play in the ten work "Pittsburgh Cycle" from August Wilson, the Black Rep has put forth a superior effort. Ma Rainey's Black Bottom is especially interesting to me as a musician since the focus is really on the interplay that goes on between Ma Rainey's band as they banter about various aspects of life and the music business, all while waiting for Ma to show up, or trying not to incur her wrath when she does. A terrific cast makes for an enjoyable, if tragic, ride that's well worth your time and attention. (more...)

The National to Revive MA RAINEY'S BLACK BOTTOM This Winter
by BWW News Desk - Apr 23, 2015

According to the Daily Mail, August Wilson's Ma Rainey's Black Bottom is headed to the National Theatre in January, directed by Dominic Cooke. (more...)

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