Jitney director Ruben Santiago-Hudson and cast members Brandon J. Dirden, Michael Potts, and John Douglas Thompson joined AOL for its live Build series February 14 to talk about the Broadway revival, now playing a limited engagement at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre. The play is set to close March 12, but Santiago-Hudson told interviewer Laura Heywood that he was very much “looking to keep this alive.”
“It’s too important not to,” continued the director, who revealed he was looking for ways to extend the life of the production. Set in the early 1970s, August Wilson’s Jitney follows a group of men who make a living driving unlicensed cabs or jitneys.
The play is produced on Broadway by Manhattan Theatre Club, which is a subscription-based theatre company. MTC has already lined up two productions for the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre following the closing of Jitney next month: Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes, followed by Harold Prince’s Prince of Broadway. Santiago-Hudson joked that he could see it playing a three-and-a-half-year run on Broadway were he given the opportunity to do so.
“My mission now is to make sure that we do have life…to find a way to continue and to be able to share this with as many people as possible,” he said.
Jitney began performances December 28, 2016, and officially opened January 19. The play is the only work from the late two-time Pulitzer Prize winner’s American Century Cycle that has never previously been seen on Broadway.
The cast also features Harvy Blanks (Jitney in WNYC’s Greene Space American Century Cycle recording); Tony Award nominee Anthony Chisholm (Radio Golf, Jitney at Second Stage); André Holland (Joe Turner's Come and Gone, Moonlight); Carra Patterson (Significant Other, Wit, Straight Outta Compton); Keith Randolph Smith (Fences, King Hedley II); and Ray Anthony Thomas (Jitney and Fences in WNYC’s Greene Space American Century Cycle recordings, Between Riverside and Crazy).
“Set in the early 1970s, this richly textured piece follows a group of men trying to eke out a living by driving unlicensed cabs, or jitneys,” describe MTC production notes. “When the city threatens to board up the business and the boss’ son returns from prison, tempers flare, potent secrets are revealed and the fragile threads binding these people together may come undone at last.”
Scroll through photos of the Broadway opening night of Jitney below:
Celebrate Jitney’s Broadway Opening Night with John Legend and More
MTC’s Samuel J. Friedman Theatre is located at 261 West 47th Street, New York. Tickets are available at Telecharge.com, by calling (212) 239-6200, or at The Samuel J. Friedman Theatre Box Office.