BWW Review: SEVEN GUITARS at TRT Poignant and Entertaining

"If it's out there for someone, it should be out there for me."

-Seven Guitars

Two River Theater opens it's 2015-2016 season with an exceptional production of August Wilson's Seven Guitars. The show will be on a strictly limited engagement through October 4th. This show is Wilson's 1940's play of his 10-play cycle exploring the African-American experience during each decade of the 20th century. Making his directorial debut is acclaimed actor, Brandon Dirden. Wilson's richly crafted script, Dirden's impeccable direction, original music by Jason Moran and the extremely talented cast make Seven Guitars a must-see show this fall.

Seven Guitars tells the story of personal ambition in the face of racial and economic oppression. Set in Pittsburgh's Hill District in 1948, Floyd "Schoolboy" Barton, a blues guitarist, is on the cusp of stardom with a hit record and the promise of another recording opportunity in Chicago. Barton is a temperamental sort who is trying to mend his relationship to his girlfriend Vera, and convince his fellow musicians, Canewell and Red Carter, to travel with him to Chicago. Barton's fate is in question as are the ideals and the futures of the people who live in the close-knit urban neighborhood.

Each of the characters in Seven Guitars plays an important part in developing the story. While the production reveals the trials that African-Americans have faced because of societal ills, it is laced with humor and heart. The cast is a perfect collective and they work seamlessly to make every moment of the show captivating.

Floyd Barton (Kevin Mambo) is a determined, bombastic musician focused on fame and fortune. Vera (Christina Acosta Robinson) is Floyd's girlfriend, a quiet and thoughtful lady. Louise (Crystal A. Dickson) is a sassy yet impressively honest woman. Ruby (Brittany Bellizeare) is a spirited young woman who has come from the South to visit Louise, her aunt. Canewell (Jason Dirden) is the band's harmonica player, clever and charismatic. Red Carter (Charlie Hudson III) is the band's drummer, easy going with a fine sense of humor. Hedley (Brian D. Coats) is a complex character, frighteningly unpredictable who preaches his strong religious views. There are moments when you will be on the edge of your seat, wondering what will happen next with the lives of these seven distinctive characters.

Take the time over the next few weeks to see Seven Guitars. It is an important, entertaining show and you will relish every moment of this outstanding production.

The creative team for Seven Guitars has captured the mood of the 1940's in the Hill District with scenic design by Michael Carnahan, costume design by Karen Perry, lighting design by Driscoll Otto, sound design by David Margolin Lawson. Fight direction is by Unkle Dave's Fight-House, casting is by Heidi Griffiths and Kate Murray and production stage management is by Laura Wilson.

Ticket prices for Seven Guitars range from $37 to $65 with discounts available for groups, seniors, and U.S. military personnel, their families and veterans. A limited number of $20 tickets are available for every performance and they may be partial view. Tickets for patrons under the age of 30 are $20 and include the best available seats at every performance. Tickets available by calling 732.345.1400 or by visiting

Photo Credit: T. Charles Erickson

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