JITNEY

Westcoast Black Theater Troupe

 Review:  JITNEY

“You don’t always live the life of your dream.” –Fielding

 

With a seat in the center and a couple of rows up, my view of the stage was perfect for this intimate setting. I wouldn’t want to see Jitney on a stage larger than this. The setting takes place in 1977 in Pittsburgh  Pennsylvania, in a gypsy cab station. The quaint theater seating allowed the actors an opportunity to captivate the audience. Unofficial, unlicensed cab drivers hustle to make a living in an area other taxi companies won’t travel to.

Written by August Wilson and Directed by Jim Weaver; Jitney pulls the curtains aside and exposes what takes place behind the scenes. “You don’t always live the life you of your dreams,” says Fielding, one of the taxi drivers played by Ron Bobb-Semple. The play follows the taxi drivers over several days giving a glimpse long enough to leave you with reflecting upon your life and what’s important, whose important and how, is what I am doing affecting others?

“I was tearing up, a great portrayal of where we have to go for the paradigm shift,” says Pat Ross. She and her husband Frank came all the way from Detroit to see this play. “The acting was outstanding, a powerful riveting play,” says Frank Ross.

I agree the acting was fast paced providing a constant movement keeping the audience engaged and pausing at the right time to pull on your heart-strings. Jim Weaver did a fantastic job in directing this play along with Nate Jacobs, founder and Artistic Director.

Will Little plays Youngblood; the youngest and most ambitious driver among his peers. His actions are misconstrued, causing Turnbo; played by Horace Smith’ to stir trouble. Little’s ability to envelope his character and breathe life into him without hesitation or flinching impresses me most.

I found myself paying attention to the actor’s costumes. With a precise eye and first show dressing the cast, for WBTT, Costumer; Kathleen Marinacci gets it. Her vast knowledge of vintage fashion comes through in the pieces she chooses for each individual actor. It’s an important factor in believability of the time period and enhances the actor’s delivery.

I encourage you to see the play before the curtain closes on February 3rd. My overall experience at WBTT was extremely pleasant, from easy parking to helpful courteous staff. Two things that may help you in the future; cut off time to arrive is 8:10pm, it’s open seating so you’ll want to arrive early and there are two stalls in the restroom so don’t dilly dally.

In it’s 13th season, WBTT Theater continues it’s growth by adding a fifth week to each show, expanding their talent pool, adding  a series called talk back with the cast to one performance after the show and enhancing their costuming and sets.

The theater is located at 1646 10th Way, Sarasota, FL, (941) 366-1505. Visit www.wbttsrq.org for tickets and show schedule.

 Jitney Cast

 CAST:

RON BOBB-SEMPLE – Fielding

DHAKERIA CUNNINGHAM – Rena

ANDREW DRAKE – Shealy

DON LAURIN JOHNSON – Booster

WILL LITTLE – Youngblood

STEVEN MCKENZY – Doub

HORACE SMITH – Turnbo

MARTIN TAYLOR – Philmore

ALFRED H. WILSON – Becker

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