Review Roundup: TONI STONE Opens Off-Broadway - See What The Critics Had To Say

Review Roundup: TONI STONE Opens Off-Broadway - See What The Critics Had To Say

Roundabout Theatre Company presents the world-premiere production of Toni Stone by Lydia R. Diamond, directed by Pam MacKinnon, opens tonight.

The cast includes Eric Berryman (Stretch), Harvy Blanks (Alberga), Phillip James Brannon (King Tut), Daniel J. Bryant (Spec), Jonathan Burke (Elzie), Toney Goins(Jimmy), Kenn E. Head (Millie), Ezra Knight(Woody) and April Matthis (Toni Stone).

Toni Stone is an encyclopedia of baseball stats. She's got a great arm. And she doesn't understand why she can't play with the boys. Stone knocks it out of the park as the first woman to go pro in the Negro Leagues. Featuring a bullpen of players crossing age, race and gender to portray all supporting roles, Toni Stone is a vibrant new play about staying in the game, playing hard, playing smart, and playing your own way.

Tickets for Toni Stone are available by calling 212.719.1300, online at roundabouttheatre.org, in person at any Roundabout box office: American Airlines Theatre Box office (227 West 42nd Street); The Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre (111 West 46th Street) and Studio 54 (254 West 54th Street); or by visiting StubHub, The Premier Secondary Ticketing Partner of Roundabout. Ticket prices range from $79-89.

See what the critics had to say!


Jesse Green, The New York Times: But Ms. Diamond, the author of "Stick Fly" and "Smart People," has avoided that trap. "Toni Stone" is at its considerable best whenever, like its main character, it's at its most unconventional. The spiky rhythm of Pam MacKinnon's direction; the unvarnished quirkiness of the eight-man ensemble supporting Ms. Matthis; the astonishing, dancelike movement (by Camille A. Brown) that expresses the game without mimicking it - all contribute to the feeling that we're learning something new, but also in new ways.

Robert Hofler, TheWrap: Nine players are needed to make a baseball team, and director Pam MacKinnon's ensemble of nine actors wear jerseys (costumes by Dede Ayite) that read "clowns" across the chest. Stone's team is the Indianapolis Clowns, which is one of those factual details that the literary gods sometimes give a writer; and Diamond, along with MacKinnon, Matthis and the other actors run with it.

Elysa Gardner, New York Stage Review: It's ripe subject matter, but over two acts that run two hours and change (not including an intermission), Diamond and MacKinnon sometimes fall back on clichés and, yes, rambling, diminishing its weight. The various exchanges between Toni and Albergus, however adroitly played, feel repetitive, revealing little that's intriguing about the couple as individuals or their relationship once they've been established.

Melissa Rose Bernardo, New York Stage Review: One suspects Diamond's play only scratches the surface of Toni Stone's story (Diamond's play is based on Martha Ackmann's book Curveball: The Remarkable Story of Toni Stone); thanks to Matthis' performance and this slick production-we can't forget the superb choreography, with an appropriately murky undertone, by Camille A. Brown-you're bound to leave wanting to know more about the woman ESPN forgot.

David Cote, Theater News Online: The historical sports drama Toni Stone, in which playwright Lydia R. Diamond sketches a jaunty bioplay about the first woman - and the first African American woman - ever to play in professional-league baseball. There's no doubt about it: What Toni Stone did is remarkable. But who was she, apart from her athletic trailblazing? That's a trickier question, and it's where April Matthiscomes in. This extraordinary performer, whom I've admired for years in downtown work, adds her inimitable spark and mystery to an elusive historical figure, and the result is absolute magic.

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