Set in 1977 in the Hill District of Pittsburgh, Jitney follows hard working Becker, the manager of a "jitney" or gypsy taxi cab station that draws unlicensed business outside an abandoned building. Urban renewal is demanding the building be torn down, threatening Becker's business and his crew of drivers. Faced with unemployment, Becker also has to deal with his son Booster, returning home after 20 years in prison for murdering his girlfriend.
Jitney is a part of Wilson's decade-by-decade chronicle of the twentieth century which includes Joe Turner's Come and Gone (1910s), Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (1920s), The Piano Lesson (1930s), Seven Guitars (1940s), Fences (1950s), and Two Trains Running (1960s).
John Lawhorn, a veteran of three Wilson plays at the Alliance (Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, The Piano Lesson and Two Trains Running), stars as Becker. Anthony Chisholm, who performed Fielding in Jitney at Chicago's Goodman Theatre, reprises his role at the Alliance. Also in the cast are Hassan El-Amin (Booster), Taurean Blacque (Shealy), Frederick Charles Canada (Doub), John Beasley (Turnbo), Sean Squire (Youngblood) Keesha Sharp (Rena) and Billy Jones (Philmore).
Designing the show are Marjorie Bradley Kellogg (sets), Dawn Chiang (lighting), Mariann Verheyen (costumes) and Brian Kettler (sound). Frequent Wilson musical director (both on Broadway and at the Alliance) Dwight Andrews will musical direct Jitney. Tickets are $40-$15 and available by calling Woodruff Arts Center Box Office at (404) 733-5000. The Woodruff Arts Center is located on the corner of Peachtree and 15th Street and on the web at http://www.alliancetheatre.org.
The rest of the Alliance mainstage season follows:
Nov. 19-Dec. 26, Alliance will premiere the 10th anniversary production of Charles Dicken's A Christmas Carol. 1999 brings all new sets, costumes and script to the Christmas classic.
William Nicholson's Shadowlands, the dramatized true story of C.S. Lewis' relationship with a younger American poet, is revived Jan. 13-Feb. 6, 2000. Susan V. Booth directs. Shadowlands premiered on Broadway in 1991 and became a 1993 feature film with Anthony Hopkins and Debra Winger in the lead roles.
Heartbreak House, the comic George Bernard Shaw take on male female relationships, runs March 2-26, 2000. Chris Coleman directs.
The final production on the mainstage will be the musical revue, Blues in the Night. Conceived by Sheldon Epps (Play On!), Blues tells the story of three women's relationship with one man through the music of Duke Ellington, Johnny Mercer and Harold Arlen, Alberta Hunter and Bessie Smith. Leon directs.
-- By Christine Ehren and Sean McGrath