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Review Roundup: What Did Critics Think of JITNEY at Arena Stage?

Review Roundup: What Did Critics Think of JITNEY at Arena Stage?

Jitney just recently opened at Arena Stage and critics were in attendance! Check out what they had to say.

Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater presents August Wilson's Jitney. Tony Award-winner Ruben Santiago-Hudson directs his 2017 Broadway production - recipient of the Tony Award for Best Play Revival.

Set in the early 1970s, Jitney follows a group of men trying to make a living by driving unlicensed cabs, or jitneys. The dramatic story of a Pittsburgh jitney station becomes a symbol of stability as the drivers resist powerful forces while coming to grips with their pasts to fulfill their own hopes and dreams for the future. This kicks off the national tour of one of Wilson's great masterpieces.

"A joyfully intoxicating celebration!" (The New York Times), Jitney runs September 13 - October 20, 2019 in the Kreeger Theater. The production was produced on Broadway by Manhattan Theatre Club in association with Eric Falkenstein, Ron Simons, John Legend/Mike Jackson and Ken Wirth. Jitney opens Arena Stage's August Wilson Festival, celebrating the Pulitzer Prize-winning giant.

Check out the reviews below!


Andrew White, BroadwayWorld: With this production of Jitney you're not just watching a play; you are immersing yourself in Wilson's world. And what a rich world it is, with folks dropping in and out, gossiping, swiping at each other, arguing, plotting, dreaming. Not to mention showing off - costume designer Toni-Leslie James makes sure the cast is decked out in the finest threads of the day (check out Harvy Blanks, as Shealy the numbers-runner, who makes a grand entrance in every scene with the latest in 70's urban fashion.) You come to know and love every one of them; that love, however, tempered by the realization that Death hovers over these men and women, biding its time and waiting to swoop down and snatch his prey.

Ramona Harper, DC Metro Theater Arts: The characters in Jitney fill the colorful form but the ups and downs of life itself provide the dramatic function in a first-rate production about making a way out of no way. Jitney takes the bull by the horns with burst-out-loud humor that tickles the heart. Not to be missed.

Peter Orvetti, MD Theatre Guide: Though Francois Battiste as Booster does not enter until halfway through the play, he quickly steals the stage. Booster presents himself as a post-jailhouse Zen master, radiating calm and a sense of being totally at peace with his past actions. It takes only a few words from the father who had never visited him in prison to tear through that veneer, exposing a proud (and prideful) man filled with rage, bound to a twisted sense of moral justice.

Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

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