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Arena Stage Announces TONI STONE Cast and Creative Team


Pam MacKinnon directs this heroic, true story that shines a light on one of history's greatest trailblazers.

Arena Stage Announces TONI STONE Cast and Creative Team

Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater announces the company for Toni Stone, written by Arena alumna resident playwright Lydia R. Diamond. Set in the 1950s, Toni Stone was the first woman to play baseball in the Negro Leagues, also making her the first woman to play in a professional men's league.

Against all odds, Stone blazed a path in the male-dominated sports world, shattering expectations and creating her own set of rules. Arena is excited to roar back with this uplifting and inspiring story that marks the return of live productions to the Mead Center.

Award-winning playwright Diamond (Arena's Smart People, Stick Fly) tells the dynamic and exhilarating story of Stone's journey of perseverance and resilience just to do what she loved the most - play baseball. Directed by Pam MacKinnon, Toni Stone runs September 3 - October 3, 2021 in the Kreeger Theater. Press night for Toni Stone will be held on Thursday, September 9, 2021.

"What better way to come roaring back in the Nation's Capital than with a story of perseverance and overcoming the odds," shares Artistic Director Molly Smith. "Lydia R. Diamond has crafted an inspirational play about Toni Stone, the first woman to play professional baseball in a men's league. Pam MacKinnon directs phenomenal performances telling this vital story about a woman who was determined to play baseball at the highest level. In December 2020, the Negro Leagues were officially recognized as a Major League - at long last - and Arena is excited to amplify Toni's hidden history."

Reprising their roles from the A.C.T. run include JaBen Early (Arena's Junk), Kenn E. Head (Roundabout's Toni Stone), Rodney Earl Jackson Jr. (Broadway's Ain't Too Proud - The Life and Times of The Temptations), Sean-Maurice Lynch (Arena's Jubilee) and Jarrod Mims Smith (A.C.T.'s The Royale).

Also joining the cast and making their Arena Stage debuts are Gilbert L. Bailey II (Broadway's Beetlejuice), Aldo Billingslea (Folger's The Winter's Tale) and Santoya Fields (Berkeley Repertory's School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play).

Based on the novel Curveball, The Remarkable Story of Toni Stone by Martha Ackmann and commissioned by Roundabout Theatre Company and Samantha Barrie, Toni Stone received development support from the Resident Artists Program at Arena Stage, Washington, D.C. This production is in association with American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) and Roundabout Theatre Company, where it received its world premiere in May 2019.

"Toni Stone's story has been a part of my life for almost a decade. Throughout my career my favorite projects have been those I get to revisit," explains MacKinnon. "I am grateful that this production, which closed on its opening night at American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco on March 11, 2020, due to the pandemic, will now mark Arena Stage's return to in-person theater. Lydia Diamond's play and this company of committed actors and designers take seriously the charge to share Toni's story and the story of the Negro Leagues. Black Lives Matter."

In addition to MacKinnon, the creative team includes Choreographer Camille A. Brown, Set Designer Riccardo Hernández, Costume Designer Dede Ayite, Lighting Designer Allen Lee Hughes, Sound Design and Original Music by Broken Chord, Hair and Wig Designer Cookie Jordan, Assistant Choreographer Jay Stanton, Stage Manager Elisa Guthertz, Assistant Stage Manager Kurt Hall and Production Assistant Dayne Sundman.

Additional casting will be announced at a later date.

For a special one-day-only event on Sunday, September 26, Toni Stone will be simulcast to the center field video board in Nationals Park. Further details will be announced next month.

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