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September 10, 2016 - October 9, 2016

Directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson

- The Star-Ledger

- Scene On Stage

- Broadway World

- Talkin' Broadway

- The Asbury Park Press


Chicago, 1927 and she's The Mother of the Blues...

August Wilson’s powerful look at the 1920s music scene takes us into the world of legendary singer Ma Rainey (the real-life “Mother of the Blues”) as she lays down tracks with her band in a Chicago recording studio. Ruben Santiago-Hudson returns to Two River to direct after his triumphant productions of JitneyTwo Trains Running and Your Blues Ain’t Sweet Like Mine.

For further reading:

The Grace of Attention: Brief Encounters with August Wilson, By Madeleine George

WBGO 88.3FM Broadcast From Theater





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Chant Adams
Chant Adams

Dussie Mae

Chant Adams (Dussie Mae) is overjoyed to be a part of this production of Ma Raineys Black Bottom! She recently graduated from Carnegie Mellon University and is a Detroit native. Her past credits include Antony and Cleopatra, In a Word, and Gertrude Stein SAINTS!. She was cast as the lead in the upcoming feature Roxanne, Roxannea film based on hip hop legend Roxanne Shant from producers Forest Whitaker and Pharrell Williams.

Harvy Blanks
Harvy Blanks

Slow Drag

Harvy Blanks (Slow Drag) has performed in regional theater for more than 30 years and was a member of the Denver Center Theatre Company for 28 of those years. As a member of the DCTC, Harvy portrayed such comedic characters as Banjo in The Man Who Came to Dinner and The Witty Gambler in Three Men and a Horse. There he also performed in nine plays of August Wilsons 10-play American Century Cycle, including Boy Willie in The Piano Lesson, Gabe in Fences, Loomis in Joe Turners Come and Gone, Turnbo in Jitney, and West in Two Trains Running. He completed August Wilsons 10-play epic by appearing in Ma Raineys Black Bottom at the Portland Stage in Portland, ME. Harvy recently received accolades for his radio performances in Zora Neale Hurstons Their Eyes Were Watching God and three character roles in August Wilsons Century Cycle, both performed for New York Public Radio directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson. Some of Harvys musical theater credits include Jim in Big River, Purlie in Purlie Victorious, and part of the musical ensemble in Randal Myler and Dan Wheetmans Fire on the Mountain. Recently, Harvy was seen in Cabin in the Sky at Encores! in NYC. He played the role of Donald in the world premiere of Danai Guriras Familiar at Yale Repertory Theatre. Harvy is a recipient of the Drama Desk Award for the Off-Broadway hit Tabletop. He currently splits his time between New York and Colorado.

Brian D. Coats
Brian D. Coats


Brian D. Coats (Toledo) made his Two River debut last season as Hedley in August Wilsons Seven Guitars. His recent credits include the world premiere of Chisa Hutchinsons The Wedding Gift and Christina Andersons pen/man/ship at Contemporary American Theatre Festival. NY Theater includes: The Big Man (Ensemble Studio Theatre); La Ruta and Bamboo in Brooklyn (Working Theater); On the Levee (Lincoln Center/ LCT3); The Merry Wives of Windsor and Two Gentlemen of Verona (The Public/ NYSF); Puddnhead Wilson (The Acting Company); Woza Albert! (Lincoln Center Institute). Regional includes: world premiere of Theresa Rebecks The Nest (Denver Center Theatre Company), Invisible Man (Huntington Theatre Company/ Studio Theater, DC), shared Helen Hayes Award; Fences, A Raisin in the Sun, The Odd Couple (Geva Theatre Center); Clybourne Park (SE Premiere, Caldwell Theatre); Distant Fires (Peoples Light & Theatre), shared Philadelphias Barrymore Award. Film/TV credits include: For Flow (HBO), Law & Order, Law & Order: SVU, JAG, Big Lake, Blue Bloods, The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire and upcoming Luke Cage (Netflix). Graduate: University North Carolina School of the Arts.

Michael Cumpsty
Michael Cumpsty


Michael Cumpsty (Irvin) has appeared in Absurd Person Singular, Present Laughter and Much Ado about Nothing at Two River Theater, where he also directed Third. He was most recently in The Body of an American for Primary Stages and Hartford Stage. On Broadway Michael has appeared in Machinal, The Winslow Boy, End of the Rainbow (Tony nomination) Sunday in the Park with George, The Constant Wife, Democracy, Enchanted April, 42nd Street, Copenhagen, Electra, 1776, Racing Demon, The Heiress, Translations, Timon of Athens (Bayfield Award), La Bte and Artist Descending a Staircase. His Off-Broadway credits include Hamlet (Obie Award), Richard II and Richard III (all for Classic Stage Company); Twelfth Night, Timon of Athens, Alls Well That Ends Well, Hamlet, Cymbeline and The Winters Tale (all for the New York Shakespeare Festival). He has appeared in many of Americas premiere regional theaters. He played Leontes in The Winters Tale for the Royal Shakespeare Company at their home in Stratford-upon-Avon. Michael has played recurring roles on Boardwalk Empire, Nurse Jackie and Star Trek: Voyager, and was a series regular on L.A. Law. His other TV credits include Red Oaks, The OA, Madam Secretary, The Good Wife, Law & Order, and Elementary. His film credits include Eat Pray Love, Wall Street 2, Starting Out in the Evening, The Ex, Flags of our Fathers, The Visitor, The Ice Storm, Fatal Instinct, State of Grace, Downtown Express and the forthcoming Collateral Beauty.

Brandon J. Dirden
Brandon J. Dirden


Brandon J. Dirden (Levee) made his directorial debut last season at Two River Theater with August Wilsons Seven Guitars. Among his many credits as an actor in the plays of August Wilson, Mr. Dirden made his professional debut in a 1990 production of Joe Turners Come and Gone at the Alley Theatre and was honored with an Obie, AUDELCO, and Theatre World Award for his performance in The Piano Lesson at Signature Theatre in 2012. He made his Two River Theater debut in Wilsons Jitney. He has also appeared at Two River in the world premiere of Ruben Santiago-Hudsons Your Blues Aint Sweet Like Mine and in Topdog/Underdog, in which he starred opposite his brother Jason Dirden under the direction of the plays author, Suzan-Lori Parks. On Broadway, his credits include Clybourne Park (in which he appeared with his wife, Crystal A. Dickinson) and, most recently, All the Way, in which he starred as Martin Luther King Jr. opposite Bryan Cranstons Lyndon Johnson. Television credits include The Good Wife, The Big C, Public Morals, and BrainDead. You can also see him on Baz Luhrmanns The Get Down, an original Netflix series and as Agent Aderholt on FXs acclaimed drama The Americans. Training: BA, Morehouse College and MFA, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Twitter: @brandondirden. This performance is dedicated to the legacy of Jim Houghton, a true champion of the theater.

Bob Mackasek
Bob Mackasek


Bob Mackasek (Policeman/Delivery Man) has been seen in regional theater and amateur productions including as Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman, Joe Keller in All My Sons, Jean Shepard in A Christmas Story: The Musical, Michael Raleigh in God of Carnage, George Aaronow in Glengarry Glen Ross, Herbie in Gypsy, Percival Brown in The Boy Friend, Tiger Brown in Threepenny Opera, Bellamy in The Fantasticks, and Uncle Charlie in August: Osage County. Bob has been playing and singing in piano bars for more than 40 years.

Marcel Spears
Marcel Spears


Marcel Spears (Sylvester) most recently co-starred in The Guthrie Theaters production of Alice Childress play Trouble in Mind. This past spring, Marcel starred in the title role of the Classic Stage Companys Young Company production of Shakespeares Othello; prior to that, he was seen in Classic Stage Companys critically acclaimed production of Mother Courage. In 2015, Spears starred Off-Broadway opposite Deidre OConnell in Page 73s production of Judy by Max Posner under the direction of Ken Rus Schmoll. Marcel made his Classic Stage Company debut in the Young Companys 2015 production of A Midsummer Nights Dream directed by Tyne Rafaeli, playing the role of Nick Bottom, for which he was awarded the Rosemarie Tichler Fund Grant. Other NY credits include Light (dir. Brian Kulick), The Threepenny Opera, The Emperor Jones, and The Maids (Columbia University/Columbia Stages). Marcel holds an MFA in Acting from Columbia University.

Peter Van Wagner
Peter Van Wagner


Peter Van Wagner (Sturdyvant) New York: A Thousand Clowns at Roundabout, So Help Me God! at the Lortel, The Chimes at The Public Summer Play Festival, The Notebook at Second Stage, Letters From Cuba at Signature, Overtime at Manhattan Theatre Club. International: West Side Story at La Scala-Milan, German tour of Phantom. Regional: The Cherry Orchard at Yale Rep, Two Men of Florence at Huntington, After the Revolution, Ah, Wilderness at Baltimore Centerstage, Twelve Angry Men, Diary of Anne Frank at Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Hearts at Long Wharf, Mrs. Warrens Profession at Alliance. Chicago: Merry Wives of Windsor at Chicago Shakespeare, Fiddler on the Roof at Drury Lane, Huckleberry Finn at Goodman, Other Peoples Money at Royal George, ER/Emergency Room at Organic. Films: Annie, Tower Heist, Arthur, People I Know, Off the Black. Television: Boardwalk Empire, Rescue Me, all the Law & Orders, The Good Wife, Unforgettable, Third Watch. Peter is a SAG Award winner for Ensemble in HBOs Boardwalk Empire.

Arnetia Walker
Arnetia Walker

Ma Rainey

Arnetia Walker (Ma Rainey) began her acting career on Broadway at the age of 16 in The Sign in Sydney Brusteins Window. She went on to appear in Two Gentlemen of Verona, The Wiz, Raisin, and Dreamgirls, where she holds the distinction of being the only actress to have played all three of the lead female roles. Her most recent stage performance was as Mae in Head of Passes presented by The Public Theater. Ms. Walkers list of television credits include Nurses, The Big House, Everybody Loves Raymond, Just Shoot Me, The Steve Harvey Show, Mad About You, and The Fresh Prince of Bel Air among many others. She has also appeared in the films Love of the Game, Balloon Farm, Love Crimes, College Road Trip, Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills, and Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.

James A. Williams
James A. Williams


James A. Williams (Cutler) is thrilled to return to Two River, where he was previously seen in August Wilsons Two Trains Running and Jitney. He originated the role of Roosevelt Hicks on Broadway in August Wilsons Radio Golf. Off-Broadway credits include August Wilsons The Piano Lesson and Athol Fugards My Children! My Africa! at Signature Theatre. Regionally, hes performed at Center Stage, the Goodman Theatre, The Kennedy Center, Mark Taper Forum, McCarter Theatre, Penumbra Theatre, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Syracuse Stage and Yale Repertory Theatre. He was also named 2008 Artist of the Year by the Minneapolis StarTribune. James is a 2015 Fox Resident Acting Fellow (Distinguished Achievement) at Pillsbury House Theater in Minneapolis.

August Wilson


August Wilson (April 27, 1945-October 2, 2005) authored Gem of the Ocean, Joe Turners Come and Gone, Ma Raineys Black Bottom, The Piano Lesson, Seven Guitars, Fences, Two Trains Running, Jitney, King Hedley II, and Radio Golf. These works explore the heritage and experience of the descendants of Africans in North America, decade-by-decade, over the course of the twentieth century, forming the complication entitled The American Century Cycle. His plays have been produced on Broadway, at regional theaters across the country and all over the world. In 2003, Mr. Wilson made his professional stage debut in his one-man show, How I Learned What I Learned, currently touring and featuring Eugene Lee reprising Mr. Wilson's role. Mr. Wilsons works garnered many awards including Pulitzer Prizes for Fences (1987) and The Piano Lesson (1990); a Tony Award for Fences; Great Britains Olivier Award for Jitney; as well as seven New York Drama Critics Circle Awards for Ma Raineys Black Bottom, Fences, Joe Turners Come and Gone, The Piano Lesson, Two Trains Running, Seven Guitars, and Jitney. Additionally, the cast recording of Ma Raineys Black Bottom received a 1985 Grammy Award, and Mr. Wilson received a 1995 Emmy Award nomination for his screenplay adaptation of The Piano Lesson. Mr. Wilsons early works included the one-act plays The Janitor, Recycle, The Coldest Day of the Year, Malcolm X, The Homecoming, and the musical satire Black Bart and the Sacred Hills. Mr. Wilson received many fellowships and awards, including the Rockefeller and Guggenheim Fellowships in Playwriting, the Whiting Writers Award, and the 2003 Heinz Award. He was awarded a 1999 National Humanities Medal by President Bill Clinton, and received numerous honorary degrees from colleges and universities, as well as the only high school diploma ever issued by the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. He was an alumnus of New Dramatists, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a 1995 inductee into the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and on October 16, 2005, Broadway renamed the theater located at 245 West 52nd StreetThe August Wilson Theatre. Today, his plays continue to be produced, and his place in the American Theater continues to grow. New York Public Radio recorded all ten plays in The American Century Cycle at the Greene Space, casting many of the actors that worked on the original productions. PBS aired a documentary on Mr. Wilson entitled, The Ground on Which I Stand, as part of the American Masters series. Mr. Wilson was born and raised in the Hill District of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and lived in Seattle, Washington at the time of his death. He is immediately survived by his two daughters, Sakina Ansari and Azula Carmen Wilson, and his wife, costume designer Constanza Romero, who is the executor of his estate.

Ruben Santiago-Hudson


Ruben Santiago-Hudson (Director) returns to Two River, where he directed August Wilsons Jitney and Two Trains Running and his own world-premiere play, Your Blues Aint Sweet Like Mine. His other recent directing credits include two world premieres by Dominique Morisseau: Skeleton Crew at the Atlantic Theater Company and Paradise Blue at the Williamstown Theatre Festival. He won an Obie Award and critical acclaim for his solo show Lackawanna Blues, and his screenplay for the HBO adaptation received the Humanitas Prize, Christopher Award, National Board of Review Honors, and NAACP Image Award; and Emmy, Golden Globe, and Writers Guild of America nominations. He made his directorial debut with Gem of the Ocean (McCarter Theatre and American Conservatory Theater). His directing credits include Athol Fugards My Children! My Africa!, The Piano Lesson, Seven Guitars and The First Breeze of Summer (all for Signature Theatre Company, where he was an Associate Artist 2008-2009); Quiara Alegria Hudes The Happiest Song Plays Last (for Second Stage); Things of Dry Hours (New York Theatre Workshop); and Radio Golf (Kennedy Center). Santiago-Hudson made his Broadway acting debut in Jellys Last Jam. His performance in Seven Guitars earned him the Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play. His most recent theater performances include August Wilsons How I Learned What I Learned (Signature Theatre), Stick Fly (Broadway), A Winters Tale (NYSF), and Gem of the Ocean (Broadway). He was seen on TV in the ABC show Castle as Captain Roy Montgomery for three seasons and most recently on the AMC Drama Low Winter Sun; his other TV credits include: The Family, Billions, Public Morals, The Good Wife, Low Winter Sun, Person of Interest, Forgotten Genius, The West Wing, Law & Order The Red Sneakers, Solomon and Sheba, Rear Window. His film credits include Selma, Their Eyes Were Watching God, American Gangster, Shaft, Devils Advocate, and Domestic Disturbance, among many others. He has been honored with numerous awards, including three Obies, Lucille Lortel, Outer Critics Circle, Dramalogue, Joe A. Calloway Directing Award, Clarence Derwent, and Helen Hayes Awards, the Distinguished Alumni Award from Wayne State University, AUDELCO Awards, a Black Filmmakers Award, and an HBO Arts Festival Theater Award. He is the recipient of an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Buffalo State College. The Ruben Santiago-Hudson Fine Arts Center in Lackawanna, New York was named in his honor.

Charlie Corcoran

Scenic Designer

Charlie Corcoran (Scenic Designer) previously designed Lives of Reason and Absurd Person Singular at Two River Theater. Off-Broadway: Billy and Ray (Vineyard Theatre), The Emperor Jones (Hewes Design Award nomination), The Quare Land (Origins First Irish Award), Port Authority, The Weir, The Freedom of the City, The Banished Children of Eve, Sive, Prisoner of the Crown, Defender of the Faith, The Field (Irish Rep), Craving for Travel (Peter J. Sharp Theatre), Smash (Juilliard), The Last Smoker in America (Westside Theatre), A Perfect Future (Cherry Lane), The Late Christopher Bean (TACT), Sophistry, The Black Monk, The Bully Pulpit (Beckett Theatre), Exits and Entrances (Primary Stages). Regional: A Comedy of Tenors (Cleveland Play House and McCarter Theatre), Vanya, Sonia, Masha and Spike (Goodman Theatre), The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Bucks County Playhouse), The Barber of Seville, The Marriage of Figaro (McCarter Theatre), The Night Watcher, Without Walls (Center Theatre Group), Fallen Angels (NJ Shakespeare Theatre). Opera: Fidelio (Santa Fe Opera), The Bartered Bride, Cosi Fan Tutte (co-production Metropolitan Opera and Juilliard), Don Giovanni, The Marriage of Figaro (2015) (Juilliard), The Magic Flute (Music Academy of the West). TV: Believe (NBC), Madam Secretary (CBS), Mozart in the Jungle (Amazon).

Karen Perry

Costume Designer

Karen Perry (Costume Designer) previously designed Lives of Reason, Your Blues Aint Sweet Like Mine, Guadalupe in the Guest Room, Third, Trouble in Mind, and August Wilsons Jitney, Two Trains Running and Seven Guitars at Two River. Recent credits include Cabin in the Sky (Encores!); The Happiest Song Plays Last (Second Stage); Dreamgirls, Clybourne Park, A Raisin in the Sun (Dallas Theater Center); stop. reset. and The Piano Lesson (Signature); Joe Turners Come and Gone (dir. Phylicia Rashad, Mark Taper); the 10th Anniversary production of Crowns, written and dir. by Regina Taylor (Goodman); Pearl Cleages Blues for an Alabama Sky, dir. Sheldon Epps (Pasadena Playhouse); John Grishams A Time to Kill, dir. Ethan McSweeny (Arena); Regina Taylors Trinity River Plays, dir. McSweeny (Dallas Theater Center, Goodman); The Trip to Bountiful, Walter Mosleys The Fall of Heaven, dir. Marion McClinton (Cincinnati Playhouse); The Brother/Sister Plays by Tarell McCraney, dir. Tina Landau (The Public) and Landau and Robert OHara (McCarter); Things of Dry Hours by Naomi Wallace (NYTW); Having Our Say, written and dir. by Emily Mann (McCarter); and Resurrection by Daniel Beaty (Arena). She has designed eight of the 10 August Wilson plays including: Gem of the Ocean, The Piano Lesson, King Hedley II, Radio Golf, Two Trains Running, and Seven Guitars. Select film/TV credits include: Gregory Hines Show, Saturday Night Live, and The Brother from Another Planet by director John Sayles.

Burke Brown

Lighting Designer

Burke Brown (Lighting Designer) previously designed Two River Theaters production of Lynn Nottages Intimate Apparel, direct by Seret Scott. Recent New York City designs: Imagining the Imaginary Invalid (Mabou Mines), La Celestina (Erratica at the Metropolitan Museum), The Long Shrift, directed by James Franco, Stay and Basilca (Rattlestick) and Lift (Alvin Ailey American Dance). Other designs: Ars Nova, NYSF-Public Theater, Center Stage-Baltimore, Cleveland Playhouse, Asolo Repertory Theatre, Magic Theatre, Cal Shakes, George St. Playhouse, and Playmakers Repertory. International Design: Abbey Theatre (Dublin), Golden Mask Festival (Moscow), Seoul Performing Arts Festival (South Korea), Festival of Two Worlds (Italy), Bayerisches Staatsballett (Germany), and English National Ballet (London). MFA, Yale. Member of Wingspace Theatrical Design.

Robert Kaplowitz

Sound Designer

Robert Kaplowitz (Sound Designer) has been lucky enough to spend the last 24 years designing sound and composing music, and has been honored with an Obie for Sustained Excellence in Sound Design and a Tony for Fela!. For Mr. Santiago-Hudson, he designed Your Blues Aint Sweet Like Mine and August Wilsons Two Trains Running here at Two River, as well as Skeleton Crew at the Atlantic and Athol Fugards My Children! My Africa! at the Signature Theatre. He lives in Philadelphia, where hes created work with PlayPenn, Arden, Interact, Wilma, PTC, Lantern, Pig Iron, Elastic, Azuka, and Lucidity Suitcase. In other cities, his work has been heard at The Public, MCC, both Signatures, NYTW, Lincoln Center, The National Theatre of England, The Guthrie, MTC, Playwrights, and basically every 99-seat theater in NYC. His love of his art is exceeded only by his love of his family.

Bill Sims Jr.

Original Music & Music Director

Bill Sims Jr. (Original Music & Music Director) is an internationally respected Master of the Blues. With the Heritage Blues Orchestra, he was a 2012 Grammy nominee for And Still I Rise in the category of Best Blues Album. His recent theater credits include August Wilsons Two Trains Running and Jitney at Two River and The Piano Lesson at Signature Theatre. Off-Broadway: Lackawanna Blues (Public Theater, Obie Award for Music, 2001), Seven Guitars, The First Breeze of Summer (both Signature), Things of Dry Hours (NYTW). Other theater: Deep Down (INTAR), Gem of the Ocean (McCarter), Crowns (Intiman), Trick the Devil (Freedom Theatre), Moms and Her Ladies (The Producers Club), Polk County (Berkeley Rep). Mr. Sims was the subject of the documentary An American Love Story (PBS) for which he composed many of the songs for the soundtrack. Other film credits: Lackawanna Blues, New York Stories, Miss Rubys House, American Gangster, Cadillac Records. His voice can be heard in many TV and radio commercials. His critically acclaimed 1999 CD release Bill Sims (Warner Bros.) demonstrates his knowledge of the many facets of the Blues. Training: Ohio State University.

Kenny Rampton

Original Music & Music Director

Kenny Rampton (Original Music & Music Director) joined the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra in 2010. He also leads his own sextet in addition to performing with the Mingus Big Band, The Mingus Orchestra, The Mingus Dynasty, George Gruntz Concert Jazz Band, and The Manhattan Jazz Orchestra (under the direction of Dave Matthews). In 2010 Rampton performed with The Scottish National Jazz Orchestra at the Edinburgh International Festival, and was the featured soloist on the Miles Davis/Gil Evans classic version of Porgy and Bess. He toured the world with The Ray Charles Orchestra in 1990 and with the legendary jazz drummer Panama Francis, The Savoy Sultans, and The Jimmy McGriff Quartet, with whom he played for 10 years. As a sideman, Rampton has performed with Mingus Epitaph (under the direction of Gunther Schuller), Bebo Valdez Latin Jazz All-Stars, Maria Schneider, the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra, Charles Earland, Dr. John, Lionel Hampton, Jon Hendricks, Illinois Jacquet, Geoff Keezer, Christian McBride, and a host of others. Most recently, he was hired as the trumpet voice on Sesame Street. Some of his Broadway credits include Anything Goes, Finians Rainbow, The Wiz, Chicago: The Musical, In the Heights, Hair, Young Frankenstein, and The Producers.

Thomas Schall

Fight Director

Thomas Schall (Fight Director) has served as fight director on over 50 Broadway shows, among them The Crucible, Blackbird, Waitress, China Doll, The King and I, This Is Our Youth, Of Mice and Men, Romeo and Juliet, Lucky Guy, War Horse, Death of a Salesman, Venus in Fur, Merchant of Venice, A View from the Bridge, and Wicked. He has worked extensively at The Public Theater (Hamlet, King Lear, Titus Andronicus, Mother Courage, Father Comes Home From the Wars), Lincoln Center Theater (A Free Man of Color, Disgraced, Blood and Gifts), MTC (Ruined, Murder Ballad), and the Met Opera (Nozze di Figaro, Il Trovatore).

Erin Hicks

Wig Designer

Erin Hicks (Wig Designer) grew up in Harlem, NY. She began styling hair as an assistant on The Winters Tale at the New York Shakespeare Festival, starring Alfre Woodard, Mandy Patinkin, and Diane Venora. Over the last 20 years she has worked on various Broadway, film and TV shows. This is Erins third show at Two River, following Guadalupe in the Guest Room and August Wilson's Seven Guitars.

Heidi Griffiths


Heidi Griffiths (Casting) has worked for more than 20 years at the Joseph Papp Public Theater in NYC, where she has cast over 200 productions Off-Broadway and at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park, including Shakespeare, new plays, and musicals. On Broadway: Shuffle Along; The Crucible, Eclipsed; A Delicate Balance; A Raisin in the Sun; Lucky Guy; Chinglish; The Motherf**ker with the Hat; The Merchant of Venice; Hair; Passing Strange; Caroline, or Change; Take Me Out (Tony Award, Best Play 2003); Topdog/Underdog (Pulitzer Prize, 2002); The Wild Party; Bring in Da Noise, Bring in Da Funk; On the Town; and The Tempest. She also cast the films The Incredibly True Adventures of Two Girls in Love, MURDER and murder, and Saving Face. Ma Rainey is her sixth collaboration with Two River Theater.

Kate Murray


Kate Murray (Casting) Two River Theater: Seven Guitars, Your Blues Aint Sweet Like Mine, and The School for Wives. Broadway (as Casting Associate): The Crucible, A View from the Bridge, A Delicate Balance, A Raisin in the Sun, Lucky Guy (Casting Assistant). Additional casting credits include work with The Cherry Lane Theater, Bedlam Theatre, Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, Throughline Artists, and UglyRhino Productions. Film: Across the Sea, My First Kiss and the People Involved. Kate is the Casting Associate at The Public Theater/New York Shakespeare Festival.

Laura Wilson

Production Stage Manager

Laura Wilson (Production Stage Manager) Two River Theater: Seven Guitars, Your Blues Aint Sweet Like Mine, Third, No Place to Go. Broadway: All the Way, First Date, A Free Man of Color, The People in the Picture. Off-Broadway: Skeleton Crew (Atlantic Theater Company); Exit Strategy (Primary Stages); The Really Big Once, A Family of Perhaps Three (Target Margin Theater). Tour: Soul Doctor. Regional: Bull Durham (Alliance Theater); Period of Adjustment (dir. David Auburn), Moonchildren (dir. Karen Allen), A Thousand Clowns (Berkshire Theater Group); Guys and Dolls (Riverside Theatre); The Three Sisters, The Boys from Syracuse, and Naomi Wallaces Things of Dry Hours (Centerstage, Baltimore); Lydia R. Diamonds Stick Fly, Lee Blessings Lonesome Hollow, Neil LaButes Wrecks (Contemporary American Theater Festival); Tom Stoppards On the Razzle (Clarence Brown Theater); All in the Timing, Mac Wellmans School for Devils (The Hangar Theatre).


playMa Rainey trailer

Ma Rainey trailer

playMa Rainey teaser

Ma Rainey teaser

playMa Rainey - opening night footage

Ma Rainey - opening night footage

playTaste of the Blues - block party coverage

Taste of the Blues - block party coverage

playRuben Santiago-Hudson on August Wilson

Ruben Santiago-Hudson on August Wilson

playRuben Santiago-Hudson on Harmonica

Ruben Santiago-Hudson on Harmonica

playThe Black Bottom Dance

The Black Bottom Dance


Listen to Arnetia Walker perform a track from the show!

Music from the real Ma Rainey:

Photos from WBGO interview with the Cast:

Photos from A Taste of the Blues Block Party:

Snippet from WBGO Interview

Snippet of Arnetia Walker singing MA RAINEY'S BLACK BOTTOM



August 2, 2016 - A Timeless Cautionary Tale: Interview with Brandon J. Dirden, New Jersey Monthly Magazine / Eric Levin

August 5, 2016 - Offscript: Brotherhood with Brandon J. Dirden and Jason Dirden, American Theatre Magazine / American Theatre Editors

August 24, 2016 - RED BANK: MA RAINEYS BLOCK PARTY @TRTC, / Tom Chesek

September 3, 2016 - Thousands of Miles Apart, Brothers Brandon and Jason Dirden Take On the Same Role, / David Gordon

September 2, 2016 - Much to remember, on stage in September, The Asbury Park Press / Tom Chesek

September 8, 2016 - BWW Interview: Chante Adams in August Wilson's MA RAINEY'S BLACK BOTTOM at TRT 9/10 to 10/9, / Marina Kennedy

September 9, 2016 - Ma Raineys Black Bottom opens at Two River Theater, The Asbury Park Press / Tom Chesek

September 12, 2016 - Fall arts preview: 11 shows that shouldn't be missed, The Star-Ledger / Vicki Hyman

September 10, 2016 - Ma Rainey's Black Bottom Set to Begin Performances, / Jason Zednick

September 22, 2016 - Two Brothers Are Playing the Same Role at the Same Time (in Different Places), / Meredith Ganzman

September 26, 2016 - Those Tasty Blues: Two River Theater Opens Season with MA RAINEY'S BLACK BOTTOM, The Positive Community / G.R. Mattox

October 3, 2016 - Two Brothers, Both August Wilson Stalwarts, Play the Same Role on Opposite Coasts, The New York Times / Michael Paulson

December 20, 2016 - The 10 best New Jersey theater productions of 2016, The Star-Ledger / Patrick Maley

December 28, 2016 - Top 10 NJ Theater productions of 2016: Disgraced, Daddy Long Legs, West Side Story and more, / Jay Lustig