Sports And Race Face Off In The Ring For The Regional Premiere Of THE ROYALE By Marco Ramirez

Olney Theatre Center and 1st Stage combine forces to co-produce the first show of the 2019 - 20 Season in the Olney Theatre's Mulitz-Gudelsky Theatre Lab: The Royale by Marco Ramirez, directed and choreographed by Paige Hernandez. Inspired by the story of Jack Johnson, the first black heavyweight champion boxer, the New York Times praised Ramirez's play that "boldly takes on and reorients a familiar genre and a familiar tale." The area premiere runs at Olney Theatre Center September 25 - October 27, 2019 with Invited Press Night on Saturday, September 28 at 7:45pm. The production, with the same actors and set, moves to 1st Stage for a run January 30 - February 23, 2020

"I'm so delighted to partner with longtime colleague Alex Levy on this script, which we've both admired since Marco wrote it," says Jason Loewith, Olney's Artistic Director. "And in Paige Hernandez we've found the perfect director: her proven ability to choreograph emotion, combined with her narrative smarts, makes for an exquisite production of a story about race that resonates right now."

1st Stage Artistic Director Alex Levy adds, "We're thrilled to be joining forces with Olney to produce this beautiful and moving play. This production brings together one of the region's best established institutions with our young, fast growing company to create an experience for our communities of visceral energy, drama, and history."

In 1905, Jay "The Sport" Jackson (Jaysen Wright) dreams of becoming the first African American boxer to fight for the heavyweight championship. Despite racking up a string of vicious knockouts, racial segregation and his white manager's own reservations stand in the way. Inspired by the true story of Jack Johnson, The Royale breaks new ground by taking us inside the fighter's mind where the disciplined brutality of boxing reveals itself in theatrically-unforgettable choreo-poems. At stake is more than wins or losses, but equality and survival.

Paige Hernandez returns to Olney Theatre Center as both director and choreographer of The Royale, having previously served as choreographer for The Piano Lesson (2014). Since then she has become one of the most prominent rising directors in the region and has received multiple Helen Hayes Award nominations for both directing (Mosaic Theater's Queens Girl in Africa) and choreography (We Are Proud to Present at Woolly Mammoth).

Jaysen Wright, who starred in 1st Stage's productions of Take Me Out and Now Comes the Night stars as Jay "The Sport" Jackson, a boxer desperate to prove himself in 1905 by fighting for the heavyweight title against the white champion. Michael Anthony, who was nominated for a Helen Hayes Award for his performance in 1st Stage's Ma Rainey's Black Bottom returns to OTC as Jay's trainer Wynton, having previously appeared in Venus and Omnium Gatherum. Clayton Pelham Jr. who appeared in 1st Stage's production of The Brother Size, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (Helen Hayes nomination for "Outstanding Lead Actor") and Hero's Welcome is Jay's sparring partner Fish. Chris Genebach, an OTC regular last seen in Mary Stuart, plays Jay's white manager who simultaneously seeks to exploit and protect the boxer's tremendous talent. Lolita Marie, recipient of a Helen Hayes Award for her performance in 1st Stage's Doubt, rounds out the cast as Nina, Fish's sister, an unwelcome tie to his past.

The creative teams assembled by the two theatres includes Debra Kim Sivigny designing sets and costumes, Sarah Tundermann designing lights, Kelly Coburn as Projection Designer, Kenny Neal designing sound and Cliff Williams III as Fight Choreographer. Jessica Short is the stage manager.

The Royale

By Marco Ramirez

Directed and Choreographed by Paige Hernandez

At Olney Theatre Center: September 25 - October 27, 2019
At 1st Stage Tysons: January 30, 2020 - February 23, 2020

Olney Theatre Center Press Opening: Saturday, September 28, 2019 at 7:45 pm

At Olney Theatre Center, regular performances are Wednesday-Saturday at 7:45 pm; matinees on Saturday and Sunday at 1:45 pm; Wednesday matinee on October 2 at 1:45 pm. There is no Saturday matinee performance on September 28.

There will be an Audio-described performance for the blind and visually impaired on Wednesday, October 9 at 7:45 pm. There will be a Sign-interpreted performance on Thursday, October 17 at 7:45 pm.

Tickets begin at $54. Discounts available for groups, seniors, military and students.

Olney Theatre Special Events Related to The Royale:

  • Behind-the-Scenes: A Life in Boxing with Thom Loverro and former World Champion, William Joppy

Saturday, September 28 at 5 pm

$10/free for Olney Theatre Center members

Thom Loverro, the Washington Times' lead sports columnist and a member of the DC Boxing Hall of Fame, sits down with William Joppy, the 3-time WBA Middleweight Champion of the World, for a discussion of life in the ring. Prior to the opening night of The Royale get an inside look at the politics of positioning for title bouts as well as the personal sacrifices that go into making a champion.

Thom Loverro has been a professional journalist since 1977, working for a number of newspapers, including eight years as a news editor and reporter for The Baltimore Sun, where he covered government, politics, and crime. He moved into sports writing when he joined The Washington Times in 1992. He moved to The Washington Examiner as a sports columnist in 2009 and returned to The Washington Times in 2013, where he is currently the lead sports columnist. A regular on sports talk radio, he is currently co-host of the Kevin Sheehan Show.

William Joppy was born in Silver Spring, MD and overcame a rough adolescence which included stints in prison before turning to boxing in 1990. After success on the amateur circuit, he turned professional in 1993 and won 19 fights in-a-row before signing with promoter Don King. In 1996 he fought for and won the WBA Middleweight Championship against Shinji Takahara in Japan. Joppy would reclaim the title two more times before retiring in 2011.

  • Night at the Movies: Creed (2015)
    Saturday, October 19 at 8:15pm
    Free Admission
    Historic Theatre

Join us in witnessing another rise of a champion at Olney Theatre Center with a screening of the box office smash Creed. This sequel to the iconic Rocky franchise follows Adonis Johnson as he trains in the footsteps of his father Apollo Creed to become the next boxing legend. But first Adonis needs to prove he's got what it takes to his father's former rival-turned-friend Rocky Balboa. Directed by Ryan Coogler (Black Panther), Creed doesn't pull any punches, delivering knockout performances from a cast that includes Sylvester Stallone, Michael B. Jordan, Tessa Thompson, and Phylicia Rashad.

  • Post-show discussions will occur after the following Saturday matinee performances:
    • October 5, 12, 19 and 26

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