Review: SAFE AT HOME: THE JACKIE ROBINSON STORY at Valkyrie Theatre Company

The production runs until February 18th

By: Feb. 09, 2024
Review: SAFE AT HOME: THE JACKIE ROBINSON STORY at Valkyrie Theatre Company

When Black History Month coincides with the Dodgers kicking off spring training, it’s a perfect time to celebrate one of the most important names in baseball history. Safe at Home: The Jackie Robinson Story is an engaging history lesson about the man who changed the Major Leagues with his quiet strength and integrity. It was first commissioned and performed by the B Street Theatre eighteen years ago, where Artistic Director Alison Gilbreath fell in love with it. She has partnered with its playwright, Anthony D’Juan, to bring it back on stage with Valkyrie Theatre Company, a new community theatre in Fair Oaks.

Safe at Home opens with Jackie (George Hillman) and his friend (Judah Dwight) playing baseball. His love for the game is evident, and he excels at athletics while struggling in school. His teacher (Chelsee Elliott) suggests to his mother (Kyra Jeshon James) that Jackie’s evaluation shows that he should pursue a career as a gardener. His mother disagrees, setting in motion the events that lead Jackie to his place in history.

The story is peppered throughout with songs by D’Juan and Noah Agruss, notably the gospel-infused sound of the chorus singing to Robinson that he will be “always safe at home.” That phrase acts literally and symbolically, for Robinson suffered from abject racism from those who didn’t want to see integration in Major League Baseball. When the taunts and jeers became overwhelming, he knew that he could always find comfort and safety at home.

Rounding out the cast are James Gilbreath as Branch Rickey, Kyle Kane as the drill instructor (at my performance), and Peter DeMarzio as Coleman. Each actor, with the exception of Hillman, plays multiple roles, and even effortlessly filled in when a cast member unexpectedly couldn’t perform the second act. Their enthusiasm for the subject matter shone in their performances, and D’Juan’s work is always a pleasure to experience.

Safe at Home is being performed by the Valkyrie Theatre Company through February 18th at the Meristem Auditorium at 9200 Fair Oaks Blvd. in Fair Oaks. More information and tickets may be found online at valkyrietheatrecompany.com.

PC: Annelies Veldman




Videos