August Wilson's 2 TRAINS RUNNING to Begin 1/22 at American Stage

August Wilson's 2 TRAINS RUNNING to Begin 1/22 at American Stage
Kimberly Webb (filling in for Renata Eastlick), Cranstan
Cumberbatch, Bryant Bentley, Kim Sullivan, Wilbert L.
Williams, Jr., Alan Bomar Jones, and ranney.
Photo by Chad Jacobs.

American Stage Theatre Company kicks off the new year with August Wilson's 2 TRAINS RUNNING. They are excited to present their seventh installment of their August Wilson Century Cycle. Previews are January 22 and 23. Opening Night is January 24 and the production runs through February 23, 2014.

Opening Night Performance:
The opening will include a reception beginning at 6:30pm on January 24 catered by Marchand's Bar & Grille (The Vinoy Renaissance) with delicious delights, an open bar, and live music. Then the Opening Night performance will begin at 8pm.

Special Performances:
"Pay What You Can" Night - Wednesday, January 22 @ 8pm

In addition, American Stage will be having a Spotlight Series -American Stage Education will have an event series including a lecture, community forum and talkbacks centered around the themes of the August Wilson play, 2 TRAINS RUNNING. Thematic content for the community forum is focused on the 50th anniversary year of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. See below for full details.

2 TRAINS RUNNING is set to the year of 1969, and the aftermath of the riots, Dr. King's assassination, and the rise of the black power movement, a young man named Stirling comes to Memphis Lee's diner where customers have gathered for decades to share their struggles, faith, and hopes. But this diner has been slated for demolition in the city's new redevelopment plan, and what unfolds is Wilson's most compassionate and humorous work about lives in transition, evolving social awareness, and spirits rising.

Setting: Pittsburgh's Hill District, May, 1969. A diner across the street from West's Funeral home and Lutz's Meat Market. 2 TRAINS RUNNING will be presented in two acts with one intermission.

Bob Devin Jones* is directing for American Stage Theatre's production of 2 TRAINS RUNNING. This will be his third August Wilson play that he has directed at American Stage. is a native of Los Angeles has been a Theatre Worker for over 25 years. Since 2002 has worked as a Florida Humanities "Road Scholar" presenting Voices from the Harlem Renaissance. He began as an actor, performing in Shakespeare Festivals which have included the Oregon, Berkeley, Illinois, Idaho, and American Stage's Shakespeare in the Park. A graduate of Loyola Marymount University, he also attended the American Conservatory in San Francisco, as well as a one year tutorial at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. For the past fourteen years he has worked in the Theatre primarily as a Playwright and as a Director. As a writer he has received play commissions from Theaters across the country which include an adaptation of Miss Julia for American Stage, The Manhattan Casino, and I Got 'Em for Live Arts, Clarissa Street Reunion for the Geva Theatre in Rochester, New York, and the Millennium Monologues for the Sacramento Theatre Company. Bobs first play Uncle Bends a Home-Cooked Negro Narrative was developed at the New Works Festival at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angles. He has performed Bends at the Cork Arts Festival in Ireland, the New York Theatre Workshop, the Piccolo Spoleto Festival in Charleston, South Carolina, and at American Stage. His directing credits include The Black Nativity and Smokey Joe's Cafe at the Palladium Theater, the Young Dramatist Project at the Gorilla Theatre in Tampa, the west cost premieres of Dinah Was in Los Angeles, and On the Hills of Black America in San Francisco. Other credits include the world premiere of Tommy J and Sally for Woolly Mammoth and Theatre "J" in Washington DC, which he first directed for the New Voices/New Vision Festival at the Kennedy Center. He also directed Miss Julia for American Stage, as well as From the Mississippi Delta, and August Wilson's Gem of the Ocean, and Seven Guitars.

The cast includes Bryant Bentley* (Sterling), Cranstan Cumberbatch (Wolf), Renata Eastlick* (Risa), Alan Bomar Jones* (Holloway), ranney* (Hambone), Kim Sullivan* (Memphis), and Wilbert L. Williams, Jr. (West). Bryant Bentley*, Cranstan Cumberbatch, Alan Bomar Jones*, ranney*, and Kim Sullivan* will be returning to our stage. Bryant Bentley* will be playing the role os Sterling who was recently released from the penitentiary. Bryant is from Columbus, Ohio and is returning for another fabulous August Wilson play. Bryant Played Boy Willie in The Piano Lesson last season here at American Stage Theater and now he reunites with his colleagues to do Two Trains. Some of his credits are The Whipping Man, Jackie Robinson in Most Valuable Player (Indiana Rep), Walter Lee in A Raisin In The Sun (Wright State University), Topdog/Underdog (Phoenix Theater), Blues For An Alabama Sky, Cesar Wilkes in Gem Of The Ocean (Human Race Theater), Jitney, Giles Corey in The Crucible (Greenbrier Valley Theater), Five Guys Named Moe, CJ Memphis in A Soldier's Play, and many more. He has done several regional commercials and low budget films, including ABC's "Skin Complex".

Cranstan Cumberbatch will be playing the role of Wolf who is the community numbers runner. Cranstan was born and raised in St. Petersburg and is no stranger to the entertainment world. He's performed all over the country singing Gospel and R & B music, acting in short films, and promoting his own theme-based show called Romantic Expressions running strong on it's 5th year. In his current endeavors, the multi faceted singer, song writer, producer, and actor has found a new home in the musical theater world and more recently has played in Rent (Benny, at American Stage), Sideshow (Jake), Smokey Joes Cafe (Michael Award, and LARY Award for "Best Actor in a Musical"). In October 2010, Cranstan received high honors for his role in the 8'oclock Theater's Production of Big River.

Alan Bomar Jones* will be playing the role of Holloway, a justice seeker. Alan is from the home of aviation, Dayton, Ohio where he is a resident artist with the Human Race Theatre Company. As a resident artist with American Stage Theatre Company, this will be his fifth August Wilson cycle play performed here. Alan has appeared in over seventy professional equity productions including To Kill A Mockingbird, Jitney, Fences, King Hedley II, Gem of the Ocean, Race, and Permanent Collection. Alan was a recipient of two Onyx Awards for "Best Equity Actor" from AACTA in Pittsburgh for his work in Piano Lesson and Seven Guitars. His first international performance occurred when he appeared in Driving Miss Daisy in Sterling, Ontario. His offstage credits include a made for TV movie entitled "The Movement", seven independent films including the full length feature film "Missed It", and several regional commercials. He has an in-home audio studio where he produces audio books on CD.

ranney* will be playing the role of Hambone who is portrayed as mentally suffering in a world all of his own. This is his seventh August Wilson production. The previous six included the role of Avery in American Stage's The Piano Lesson, Hedley in Nevada Conservatory Theatre's Seven Guitars, and Boy Willie in the Center Theatre Company's production of The Piano Lesson (Critic's Choice for "Best Actor", Creative Loafing). Other notable performances are as Adriana/Antipholis/other roles in The Bomb-itty of Errors at The Ambassadors Theatre on London's West End, Link in the Jobsite Theater production of Topdog/Underdog in Tampa, and Henry in the Jobsite Theater's Race. As a director-choreographer, "ranney" has successfully mounted challenging original work including Joe Popp's Maxwell, the Rock Musical. He was nominated best international slam poet by London's Farrago Poetry Group and does poetry workshops with Tampa Bay area high school students and incarcerated youth for the Arts Council of Hillsborough County. "ranney" was the premier comedian at Laff Tuesdays - which was the professional Comedy Club at the Apollo Theater in Harlem and he has featured and headlined on the East Coast. He is the founder and producer of Stand-up HERE: A Night of Comedy at the Straz. "ranney" has mounted six one man shows in the last decade including And the Horse You Rode In On (Projects Arts Centre, Dublin), Whatever (People's Improv Theater, New York), Incendiary (The Straz Center, Tampa), and Cufflinks and Jolly Ranchers for Dummies (Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Scotland). "ranney" is currently working on his next two solo performances - a tribute to stand-up legend Redd Foxx, and his latest night of rollercoaster hilarity entitled A Laugh Supreme.

Kim Sullivan* will be playing the role of Memphis, owner of the diner who was a self-made man. Kim has been busy since last season with Street Scene at Brave New World Theatre Company. Other recent credits include Polonius in Hamlet (Hudson Guild Theatre off-Broadway), God's Trombones (Union Baptist Church in Brooklyn), Women in the Pit (National Black Theatre Festival in Winston/Salem N.C.), and In the Wine Time (Theatre Row, NYC). Kim was the 2013 Theatre Tampa Bay winner of the "Outstanding Featured Actor" Award for his portrayal of Whining Boy in American Stage's The Piano Lesson. American Stage audiences will remember Kim as Bono in Fences, Stool Pigeon in King Hedley II, Solly Two Kings in Gem of the Ocean, and Toldeo in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, and Canewell in Seven Guitars. Past credits also include Alonso in The Tempest (North Carolina Shakespeare Festival), Polonius in Hamlet (New Perspectives Theatre, NYC), Peter Shirley in Major Barbara (Missouri Rep), Friar Francis in Much Ado About Nothing (Long Wharf Theatre), Moustique in Dream on Monkey Mountain (Classical Theatre of Harlem), Sterling in Permanent Collection (Florida Studio Theater), Roosevelt in Radio Golf (directed by Ron Himes at Studio Theatre in D.C.), Doaker in August Wilson's The Piano Lesson (Virginia Stage), and The Piano Lesson (Cleveland Playhouse). TV credits include Judge Runyon on One Life to Live, "Law and Order - Trial by Jury' and '100 Centre Street', both for NBC.

Renata Eastlick* and Wilbert L. Williams, Jr. are both making their American Stage debut. Renata Eastlick* will be playing the role of Risa who is a woman struggling to define herself. She is a Brazilian-American actress, singer, dancer and voice-over artist based out of NYC, but is no stranger to the Sunshine State. Having been raised in Miami, Renata is a B.F.A. graduate of the prestigious New World School of the Arts. In 2010, she made her professional stage debut in Camp Kappawanna: A New Lisa Loeb Musical at the Adrienne Arsht Center in Downtown Miami. Since then Renata has worked on numerous productions as well as several TV shows, voice-overs, and commercials. In 2013 she was nominated for the 2011-2012 "Best Supporting Actress" Carbonell Award for her performance as Josephine in the critically-acclaimed production of Ruined (GableStage). She is a proud Silver Palm Award recipient ("Outstanding New Talent" for Eclipsed/TWTP, and Kiss of the Spider Woman at Slow Burn Theatre Company), and also received a 2010-2011 Carbonell Award Nomination for her performance as Maima/#2 in Eclipsed. New York and other regional credits include The Pajama Game (Gallery Players NY), Good People (GableStage), In the Heights (Actors' Playhouse with Janet Dacal and Doreen Montalvo), The Nutcracker: A Magical New Play (The House Theatre of Chicago), Xanadu: The Musical, Kiss of the Spider Woman: The Musical (Silver Palm Award), The Rocky Horror Show (Slow Burn Theatre Co.), Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Hairspray (Actors' Playhouse), Company (TheatreZone), Rock Odyssey (Adrienne Arsht Center), and The Last Days of Judas Iscariot (Ground Up & Rising). TV credits include "Burn Notice"(with Jeffrey Donovan and Jack Coleman), "The Glades" & "Magic City".

Wilbert L. Williams, Jr. will be playing the role of West, the local undertaker. Wilbert makes his home in Slidell, Louisiana, with his wife Bernice. He is a graduate of Xavier University and is a registered pharmacist. His stage debut came as Midge Carter in I'm Not Rappaport at the Slidell Little Theater. He has appeared in numerous productions at the Anthony Bean Community Theater of New Orleans as well as the Ashe Cultural Center. He has appeared in the HBO series "Treme". In May of 2012 he took on the role of Elmore in August Wilson's King Hedley II at The Ensemble Theatre of Houston. A member of The Wilsonian Actors of ABCT, he last appeared as Cutler in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom in 2013.

In addition to Bob Devin Jones' Directing, the Artistic Staff also includes; Michael Newton-Brown as Scenic Designer, Jerid Fox as Properties Master, Brian David Frey as Lighting Designer, Saideh Ben Judah as Costume Designer, Karla Hartley* as Sound Designer, Rachel Harrison* as Production Stage Manager, and Timon Brown as Technical Director.

* = a member of Actors' Equity Association; # = a member of the United Scenic Artists union;
+ = a member of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers

Spotlight Series - An American Stage Education event series including a lecture, community forum and talkbacks centered around the themes of the August Wilson play, 2 Trains Running. Thematic content for the community forum is focused on the 50th anniversary year of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Spotlight Lecture Series
January 12, 2014 at 1pm
A presentation by Professor Emerita Dedee Aleccia on the history and context of our Mainstage production. Following her presentation, our special guest speaker for this lecture will be the director of 2 Trains Running, Bob Devin Jones. The lectures are $5 for subscribers and $7 for the general public. Subscribers please contact our box office directly at 727.823.7529 to purchase your lecture series ticket at the subscriber price.

Spotlight Series Talkback
Sunday, February 9, 2014 (After the 3pm matinee performance)
The cast of 2 Trains Running will answer moderated questions from the audience. Free and open to patrons.

Spotlight Series Student Matinees and Talkbacks
February 4, 11 and 18, 2014 (After the 10am matinee performances)
Additional talkbacks will follow three student matinee performances of 2 Trains Running. The cast of the production will answer moderated questions from the student audience.

Spotlight Series Community Forum
Thursday, February 20, 2014 (7 - 8:30 pm)
Join us and a panel of thought leaders in the community on Thursday, February 20, 2014 from 7-8:30 pm for the Spotlight Series Community Forum focused on August Wilson's Two Trains Running. The purpose of the event is to engage our citizens - here at the theater and across the community -in a conversation that both illuminates the themes and issues addressed in the production and acts as catalyst for deeper exploration of the social issues we still face today. This event will offer participants space for debate and discussion. This forum is free and open to the public. Presented by Bayfront Health.

2014 marks the 50th Anniversary year of the Civil Rights Act of 1964:
How far have we come? How far do we still need to go?

About the Playwright - August Wilson: Born on April 27, 1945, August Wilson grew up in the Hill district of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His childhood experiences in this black slum community would later inform his dramatic writings. Then, in 1984, August Wilson was catapulted to the forefront of the American theatre scene with the success of Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, produced at Yale and later in New York in 1984. Wilson continued to work in close collaboration with Lloyd Richards of the Yale School of Drama, and by early 1990's, had established himself as the best-known and most popular African-American playwright. Wilson also set for himself a daunting task--to write a ten-play cycle that chronicles each decade of the black experience in the 20th century. Each of Wilson's plays is a chapter in this remarkable cycle of plays and focuses on what Wilson perceives as the largest issue to confront African-Americans in that decade:


2007-2008 Gem of the Ocean
2008-2009 King Hedley II
2009-2010 Fences
2010-2011 Ma Rainey's Black Bottom
2011-2012 Seven Guitars
2012-2013 The Piano Lesson
2013-2014 Two Trains Running
2014-2015 Radio Golf
2015-2016 Jitney
2016-2017 Joe Turner's Come and Gone

AMERICAN STAGE THEATRE COMPANY is a not-for-profit professional theatre founded in 1977. The company's mission is to create the most satisfying Live Theatre in the Tampa Bay area, accessible to all members of the community. Their vision is to preserve the greatest human stories from our past, while creating the most defining stories and storytelling of our time. American Stage presents its Mainstage Series in its, 182-seat Raymond James Theatre each year.

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