Not unexpectedly, August Wilson’s Jitney has been extended at Off Broadway’s Second Stage Theatre. The production, which received unanimously strong reviews and has already won a special, non competitive award from the Drama Desk for Outstanding Ensemble Performance, was to run through May 21 but will now play through July 16. The show started previews April 8 and opened April 25.
Even before the show opened, Center Theatre Group and producer Ben Mordecai, in association with Second Stage, knew they had the right to either move the show or keep it where it is until October, when the new Second Stage season begins. (Stephen Sondheim's early musical, Saturday Night, was the venue's last tenant, playing through March 26.)
Prior to New York, Jitney began subscription previews Jan. 23 at the Mark Taper Forum and opened there Feb. 3 for a run through March 19.
Directed by Marion McClinton, the cast of Jitney includes (in alphabetic order), Willis Burks II, Paul Butler, Anthony Chisholm, Leo V. Finnie III, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Barry Shabaka Henly, Russell Hornsby, Carl Lumbly and Nichole Briana White.
The first play written by Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Wilson, Jitney offers a look into 1970s Pittsburgh and the lives of a group of black men scraping out a living in a gypsy cab company (or jitney station). The play's central character (Charles Becker) is the owner of the unlicensed company who must deal with the city's plan to board up his business. He's also thrown by his son's return after 20 years in prison. Other Wilson works include Two Trains Running, Seven Guitars and Fences.
For tickets ($51) and information on Jitney at Second Stage Theatre, 307 West 43rd Street, call (212) 246-4422.
-- By David Lefkowitz