Review Roundup: JITNEY at the Old Globe - What Did the Critics Think?

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Review Roundup: JITNEY at the Old Globe - What Did the Critics Think?

The Old Globe presents August Wilson's Jitney, directed by one of Wilson's foremost interpreters, Ruben Santiago-Hudson (directed Jitney on Broadway, performed in Gem of the Ocean and Seven Guitars). The American master and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner August Wilson (the American Century Cycle of 10 plays) had a close relationship with The Old Globe, where three of his plays premiered.

This production of Jitney is produced by Erik Falkenstein and Ron Simons in association with Manhattan Theatre Club. The 2017 Tony Award winner for Best Revival of a Play will run January 18 - February 23, 2020 on the Donald and Darlene Shiley Stage in the Old Globe Theatre, part of the Globe's Conrad Prebys Theatre Center. Previews run January 18-22. Opening night is Thursday, January 23 at 8:00 p.m. Single tickets start at $30.00 and can be purchased online at, by phone at (619) 23-GLOBE, or by visiting the Box Office.

Let's see what the critics are saying...

James Hebert, San Diego Union Tribune: Nija Okoro is an appealing, tough-but-radiant presence as Rena, Youngblood's girlfriend and mother of his young son; Harvy Blanks is a comic wonder as Shealy, the leisure-suit-loving bookie who works out of Becker's place and accents his vowels with a DJ-style yowl (he gets some of costume designer Toni-Leslie James' most eye-catching looks); and Brian D. Coats brings a quiet humanity to Philmore, a doorman who drops by now and then. The fact Philmore ultimately offers to serve as a pallbearer is a hint of the tragedy that laces through this story of seismic social change in a tight-knit community, and of the various ways the people of "Jitney" choose to confront it.

Pat Launer, Times of San Diego: The play gets off to a slow start. A lengthy musical intro sets the tone with a bluesy jazz number that extends too long. When it ends, we see several of the guys having over-exaggerated interactions that establish a fussy, heavy-handed directorial style. Santiago-Hudson comes into his own in Wilson's powerful "duets," taut two-person "arias" that are gut-wrenching and illuminating. This is especially true of the incendiary scenes between Turnbo and his just-released ex-con son, Booster (Francois Battiste) and the truth-revealing moments between Youngblood and Rena.

Welton Jones, San Diego Story: Among this production's many successes supporting flights of imagination, David Gallo's set must rank high. A crumbling room with mean streets seen through filthy windows, brick tenements and power lines sketched outside, while inside are layers of a room far more inhabited than seen. The textures tell stories. The very floor tiles speak volumes. The single pay telephone through which flows so much commerce is like a dim eye of a dingy idol. Jane Cox illuminates it all with wise insight. Toni-Leslie James has supplied a wardrobe of compliant fusion from an era that offered little worth a boast.

Bill Eadie, Talkin' Broadway: Veteran Century Cycle director Ruben Santiago-Hudson knows there is a musicality to August Wilson's plays that needs to come to the fore-and it does, not only in how the cast talks and moves but in the bluesy jazz interludes that are recorded so well they sound as though they're being performed live (original music by Bill Sims Jr., sound design by Darron L West and Charles Coes). He also understands Mr. Wilson's appreciation of the spiritual and supernatural, and though his iconic character Aunt Esther does not appear, her presence is felt at the appropriate moment.

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