The Goodman Theatre production of August Wilson's Jitney has extended its run a week, from Aug. 1 to Aug. 8. The play, which came to Chicago from Rochester's Geva Theatre, opened at the Goodman on June 28.
In the tradition of past Wilson plays, Jitney will continue to criss cross the nation -- next stop: L.A.'s Mark Taper Forum, where the drama will open Feb. 3, 2000. In another Wilson tradition, Jitney may then travel to New York. Geva's press department termed the production "pre Broadway," and a Goodman spokesman confirmed that the production had New York aspirations, though no specific plans have been made. There will be one cast change with the Goodman extension. Doub, the role previously played by Barry Shabaka Henley, will now be filled by Ron Dortch. The rest of the cast remains the same and includes Willis Burks II, Paul Butler, Anthony Chisholm, Leo V. Finnie III, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Russell Hornsby, Keith Randolph Smith and Michole Briana White.
Jitney, Wilson's earliest play, was written in 1979. Since that time it has gone through numerous revisions and been mounted in regional theatres nationwide.
The play is part of Wilson's decade-by-decade chronicle of the twentieth century. It takes place in 1977. Set in the Hill district of Pittsburgh, where Wilson grew up, the play centers around a gypsy (or jitney) cab station. Through the conflict of impending demolition and the reunion of a jitney driver and his estranged son recently released from prison, Wilson presents a group of workers unified by their pride, humor and hardship.
Other works in Wilson's chronicle series include: Joe Turner's Come and Gone set in 1910, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom set in 1920, The Piano Lesson set in 1930, Seven Guitars set in 1940, Fences set in 1950, and Two Trains Running set in 1960. Wilson holds two Pulitzers for his plays Fences and The Piano Lesson. Fences also received the Tony Award for best play in 1987.
Director Marion McClinton is no stranger to Wilson's work; he has directed or acted in all of Wilson's plays in various theatres across the country. McClinton is an Associate Artist of Center Stage in Baltimore.
Lighting designer for Jitney Donald Holder recently received Tony and Drama Desk awards for his work on Disney's The Lion King. The sound designer is Rob Milburn (Buried Child, Grapes of Wrath), the costume designer Susan E. Mickey (costumes for the HBO movie "Miss Evers Boys").
--By Robert Simonson