Goldberg's Rainey Days: Whoopi Misses Perfs. Feb. 12 Due to Illness

By Andrew Gans
12 Feb 2003

Whoopi Goldberg, who stars in the Broadway revival of Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, has been felled by the flu and will be out of the Feb. 12 matinee and evening performances of the August Wilson play.



Goldberg also missed the Feb. 11 evening performance of the drama, which co-stars Charles S. Dutton. During her absence, her understudy — Ebony Jo Ann — is playing the role of blues singer Ma Rainey. Because of Goldberg's illness, second-night press performances originally scheduled for Feb. 12 and 13 have been rescheduled for Feb. 19, 20 and 21. Goldberg is expected to return to the production Thursday, Feb. 13.

Ebony Jo-Ann co-authored and starred in the Broadway production of Sheila's Day. She also appeared in the original staging of Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, and her other Broadway credits include The Sunshine Boys and Mule Bone. Off-Broadway, the actress was seen in Inacent Black and Lord Do You Remember Me.

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Set in 1927 Chicago, the complete Ma Rainey's cast features Whoopi Goldberg as Ma Rainey, Charles S. Dutton as Levee, with Louis Zorich (Sturdyvant), Jack Davidson (Irvin), Carol Gordon (Cutler), Thomas Jefferson Byrd (Toledo), Stephen McKinley Henderson (Slow Drag), Tony Cucci (Policeman), Heather Alicia Simms (Dussie Mae) and Anthony Mackie (Sylvester).

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, August Wilson's first work to arrive on Broadway, is a powerful account of a blues singer and the effect racism has on her life and career, and how anger bubbles inside musicians who are part of her world. Wilson followed Ma Rainey's with Fences, Joe Turner's Come and Gone, The Piano Lesson, Two Trains Running, Seven Guitars and King Hedley II.

Tickets for Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, priced between $50 and $80, are available by calling Telecharge at (212) 239-6200 or by logging on to the Telecharge website at www.telecharge.com. The drama plays Tuesday evenings at 7 PM, Wednesday through Saturday evenings at 8 PM, Wednesday and Saturday matinees at 2 PM and Sunday matinees at 3 PM. The Royale Theatre is located in New York City at 242 West 45th Street.