Five-time Grammy Award-winning bassist Victor Wooten has joined the creative team of August Wilson’s JITNEY, opening Nashville Shakespeare’s annual Summer Shakespeare Festival. Wooten, also a songwriter and record producer who was ranked among the Top 10 Bassists of All Time by Rolling Stone magazine, will compose original music for the show.
Local Black-owned theatre company Kennie Playhouse Theatre is collaborating with Nashville Shakespeare to produce the show, which runs August 12-22 at oneC1TY in Nashville, and September 16 and 17 at Williamson County Performing Arts Center at Academy Park in Franklin, Tenn.
Directing JITNEY is the award-winning, veteran director Chuck Smith. He is a 30-year Resident Director at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago, a Resident Director at the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe in Sarasota, Florida, and a founding member of the Chicago Theatre Company. Smith has numerous directing credits from all around the country and has won several awards over the decades including a Chicago Emmy and the African American Arts Alliance’s Lifetime Legacy Award.
August Wilson’s play JITNEY is an unflinching look into the stories and struggles of Black life in 1970’s Pittsburgh through the lens of a group of tight-knit, independent cab, or jitney, drivers. The cast of JITNEY includes Emmy-nominated Kamal Angelo Bolden of TV’s The Resident, Chicago Fire; Rosewood plays Booster; and Brian Anthony Wilson, a prolific TV and film actor widely known for his role on TV’s The Wire, plays the jitney station owner, Becker. The play will also feature Kyra Davis as Rena and Nashville-based professional actors Gerold Oliver, Clark Harris, Pierre Johnson, Elliot Winston Robinson, and Jarvis Bynum. Kenny Dozier, artistic director of Kennie Playhouse Theatre will be playing the role of Turnbo. Rashad Rayford and Ethan Jones will be joining the cast as Booster and Shealy respectively in Franklin. Fisk University instructor Persephone Felder Fentress completes the team as the stage manager.
The creative team of JITNEY includes local set designer Shane Lowry, who is building the versatile set for both shows at the Summer Shakespeare Festival. Costumes are designed by Hazel Robinson; lights by Janet Berka; props by Pixie Convertino; with fights choreographed by David Wilkerson.
The Summer Shakespeare Festival is free, but a $10 donation is strongly encouraged. Bring your own blanket or chairs. Purchase reserved ‘Noble’ seating for $40 or buy $100 VIP ‘Royal’ packages, which include reserved parking, comfortable reserved seating, and dinner catered by Bacon & Caviar Gourmet Catering.
Tickets can be purchased at <ticketsnashville.com>. Be advised that JITNEY is rated ‘MA’ for mature audiences. The Nashville Shakespeare Festival’s programs are funded in part by the Tennessee Arts Commission, Metro Arts, and the NEA.