|Jason Dirden, Glynn Turman, Damon Gupton, Keith David |
and Lillias White in August Wilson’s "Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom"
All photos by Craig Schwartz
"Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom" now on the boards of the Mark Taper Forum is fabulously acted and brilliantly staged by Tony winner Phylicia Rashad. It was first of Wilson’s plays to be produced on Broadway (in 1984) and was most responsible for making Wilson’s ‘10-play Pittsburgh Cycle’ of African-American life become a reality. Ms. Rashad has also acted in Wilson’s play "Gem of the Ocean" back in 2003, playing the 287-year old old family matriarch Aunt Ester (Wilson’s favorite character) on the stage of the Mark Taper Forum.
|Lillias White is the title character in August Wilson's|
"Ma Rainey's Black Bottom"
|Glynn Turman, Damon Gupton, Keith David |
and Jason Dirden in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom"
The performance of Jason Dirden as the swaggering, cocky, trumpet player Levee, comes dangerously close to stealing the show from what the audience sees as a superb ensemble cast. His flash and moves are so in the moment, it’s a joy to watch this pro work his magic.
|Damon Gupton and Lillias White in "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom"|
|Nija Okoro, Lillias White and Lamar Richardson |
in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
Director Rashad leads a creative team headed by Scenic Designer John Iacovelli, who created that wonderful set in Rashad’s production of "Joe Turner’s Come and Gone", at the Taper in 2013. Lighting Designer Elizabeth provides a balanced design that serves the two-level acting area, and delivers just the right amount of light to see the costumes designed by Emilio Sosa. The sound Design is by Dan Moses Schreier, with Hair and Wig Designs by Carol F. Doran. The Fight Director is Steve Rankin, the Music Direction, Arrangements and additional music is under the baton of Steven Bargonetti.
"Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom" is a must see, splendid production, that performs at the Mark Taper Forum and runs through October 16, 2016.
-- Jack Lyons