a.k.a. "The Oscar Messenger"

Archive for January, 2017

Emma Stone Wins Best Actress for “La La Land”! Denzel “Hidden Figures”

Dolly Parton gives a very funny, enthusiastic introduction to the Life-Time Achievement Award for Lili Tomlin, her memorable co-star in “Nine to Five”, in a glittering, glistening skin-tight golden gown. And Lili tops it with a suitably dry, wry very funny speech. I wish I could just re-print it in its’ entirety. I’m sure it’ll be on You Tube later tonight, probably before this awards show is over. Continuing the political bent of tonight’s speech she said,
“What should I write on my placard?”

Everyone giving politically themed speeches tonight as they should.sag-awards-2emma-stone-sagEmma Stone continues Hollywood’s love affair with “La La Land” by voting her Best Actress.It was the only place they COULD vote for it tonite, and Emma did such a good, giggly, jiggly job accepting the award. Absolutely endearing.

In black and flesh colored peek-a-boo floor length  Alexander McQueen gown, Emma gives a nervous, ditzy, adorable speech, punctuated with “Oh God”s and upset that she was constantly being told to “Wrap it up!” And she didn’t! She  thankfully, adorably went on and on, and told Gosling.”Ryan. You’re the Best. That’s the truth. It just is.” And she also addressed the political situation, saying she was proud to be part of a group of people that “stood for something.” Looking every inch the glamourous movie star, she was endearingly spontaneous.

But she wasn’t letting the political ball drop. though. She said,” Everything is terribly inexcusable right now and scary and needs action.

Then a shocker of shocks! Denzel Washington won Best Actor for his hammy-to-the-max performance in “Fences”!  Though there was a lot of talk about him never having won a SAG Award before, like ever, despite his two Oscars, he now has one and gave a totally surprised speech. He said, “I was sure I was going to loose to that young boy.(Casey Affleck who is in his 40’s, btw.) I’m not prepared. I AM prepared.” Then gave a very emotional and funny speech admitting he was “Famous” (misTAKE!) and thanking everyone by name who put “Fences” together. Especially his co-star Viola Davis, who won earlier in the evening and just seemed so happy, she practically burst out of her tight-form fitting gown.

Then, suddenly, ANOTHER surprise, (But not to me) “Hidden Figures” won Best Cast or Ensemble(or picture) as I predicted it would.

But Holt on! It’s not over yet, folks. Next is the BAFTAs and Denzel isn’t even nominated for that award, and neither is the Picture or his direction. Just Viola.

Which means Casey Affleck could win again there. And the list of people who’ve won a SAG award but didn’t win Oscars, too, is quite long. So Denzel don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched. I always bet on BAFTA. Like when Marion Cotillard won there.

This means my favorite film “Manchester by the Sea” was completely shut out. Watch the Oscars to correct that. It is a great movie. Far better than “Fences” which is all Viola, IMHO.




Live-Blogging the SAG Awards!

sag-awards-logoWell, here we are at Zero Hour. The Screen Actors Guild Awards known as SAG are about to begin, and I’m here doing this live-blogging once again for all of you dear readers, dear cineastes and I guess the big question is which film is going to win the Best Ensemble Award. Which is SAG equivalent to Best Picture. You see “La La Land” the juggernaut to end all awards juggernauts is not singing and dancing it’s way to the podium tonight, because it is not even nominated in that category. Sasha Stone at Awardsdaily.com is saying this is significant because it shows there is a flaw in the so far flawless march to the podium that “La La Land” has initiated this awards season.

“La La Land” won a historic Seven Golden Globe Awards and garnered also an equally historic 14 Oscar nominations, putting in it a class with such classics as”All About Eve” and “Titantic.” And now comes SAG and the Screen Actors shut it out completely of their Best Ensemble category. However there are only really two actors in “La La Land” which technically does not make it an ensemble. It’s a glorious two-hander and both hands DID get nominated. Emma Stone as Best Actress and Ryan Gosling as Best Actor. They could both win tonight. la-la-land-9Or not.

The first category will be one of the Supporting Actors right off the bat. Viola Davis is such a lock for the win in that category for “Fences”, they will probably give out that accolade first. There is some suspense, but not much, because front-runner Mahershala Ali of “Moonlight” did not win at the Globes in the Supporting Actor category.

It’s a role that only occurs in the first third of this movie, that is also nominated for Best Ensemble. So that will be the first surprise of the night…Or not…If not Ali, then I think it might go to Dev Patel of “Lion” as the only other actor of color in that category. I think that #Oscarssowhite controversy is still on every one’s mind. Every SAG voter that is. So we shall soon see.

Did I say there a lot of TV shows honored? That’s the bulk of the show. There are only five awards for film, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor and Actress. And as I said, Best Ensemble.

Best Supporting Actor as I said is announced first. And it’s Viola Davis. Big surprise. In a beautiful, white silk, floor-length gown. Viola thanks the late August Wilson over and over again. Very emotional. Beautiful. Moving. “Putting the ordinary man of color’s story in the center of the narrative.”

mahershala-ali-1mahershala-ali-2Mahershala Ali blows the roof off the place when he wins Best Supporting Actor for his compassionate drug dealer, who he describes as “a gentleman who sees a young man folding into himself.” And seals his Oscar for sure proclaiming himself a Muslim. You could hear a pin drop. He was in a white tuxedo. And that was a magnificent speech.


FINAL SAG Predictions! Each Film Will Win ONE Award

manchester-by-the-sea-92-emma-stonesI have to get this out as soon as possible. It’s SUCH a cut and dried year that it’s almost like typing blindfold. OF COURSE, Casey Affleck is going to win Best Actor tomorrow night at the SAG Awards. He’s won everything else. And it IS a great affecting performance that stays with you. It is also the most courageous depiction of grief I’ve ever seen in a major motion picture. He’ll win here because I think the SAG ensemble prize is going elsewhere. No, it’s not the 14 time Oscar nominee “La La Land”. It wasn’t even nominated!

But I think it’s leading lady, Emma Stone will win Best Actress. If they like “La La Land” and evidently they do, Emma in Best Actress is the only place they can vote for LLL. The same with “Manchester”. Casey Affleck will win big, because it’s not possible to vote for him or “Manchester by the Sea” anywhere else in this group of Awards.

Also, remember it’s a VERY American voting body. It’s the Actor’s of America voting so foreigners need not apply.

Viola Davis is the most mortal of locks for Best Supporting Actress for “Fences.” She’ll repeat her Broadway triumph here.

It’s a little trickier as we go on. So far we have one for “Manchester by the Sea”, Casey Affleck and one for “La La Land” Emma Stone, We have one for “Fences” which will be Viola Davis.

Then we run into the problem so who will win Best Supporting Actor. Will it be Mahershala Ali for “Moonlight” or Patel for “Lion”? Given that I think SAG is in a -spread-the-wealth mood. If Mahershala wins for his compassionate drug dealer then “Moonlight” won’t also win Best Ensemble. They might want to give “Moonlight” Best Ensemble(and it truly IS an ensemble). Then another actor of color would win Supporting which would be Dev Patel. If they liked “Lion” and the Weinsteins, this is the only category where they can vote for him.

So, if early in the evening, Patel wins in Supporting, then you can be sure that “Moonlight” will walk away with ensemble

But if it’s Mahershala Ali, who wins then the top award, their version of Best Picture, will go to another racially themed film, the box-office blockbuster “Hidden Figures” which has been surging during the voting period.

So therefore SAG will feel they’ve been fair to all. “Everyone has won and all  shall have prizes” cried the Dodo in “Alice Through the Looking Glass.

#SAG Awards #Final Predictions, #Casey Affleck, #Best Actor, # La La Land





The late British Actor John Hurt Had a Profound Impact on My Life.

john-hurt-1 john-hurt-2It is very rarely that an actor in a great performance has a profound impact on your life, but British actor John Hurt did just that. When I saw his performance as Quentin Crisp in “The Naked Civil Servant”, I made up my mind to move to England immediately. And I did.

Here, I thought was culture that would be open to someone like me, who at the time was living off and on as a transvestite and trying to make a career as both an  Out Gay actor and a trans actress and an author of gay plays. Crisp had written the ground-breaking autobiography of his life as an art school model and so he was a Naked Civil Servant. The British TELEVISION film of his life was shown here on Channel 13, and it detailed Crisp’s tale of living in drag and walking the streets of London in the ’30’s and 40’s in flaming red hair and lipstick. He was constantly being beaten up and arrested. And John Hurt portrayed these qualities to a fare-thee-well.john-hurt-3In the latter part of the film, he acquiesced to aging by dying his hair from red to blue. And he called himself, in one of the great exit lines in Film History, “I am one of the stately homos of England.”

John Hurt went on to one of the great British careers in acting. Truly versatile, he played EVERYTHING for the treacherous Richie Rich in “A Man of All Seasons” to the dumb, hapless Welsh man who is fingered by the mass murder Christie in “Ten Rillington Place” as is executed for crimes he didn’t commit.

I spent one unforgettable night in Quentin Crisp’s bed-sitting room(one room flat with the bathroom on the hall) and I asked him how I could become successful and he said “To be great to be truly great, one must transcend everything, even your work. How much better to be Wilde than to be ‘Lady Windemere’s Fan’? And how much better to be Coward, than to be one of his plays?” Words to live by.

Living abroad in England as I did for three and a half years, I count as one of the greatest adventures of my life. And if it wasn’t for John Hurt’s iconic performance as Quentin Crisp, I never would have known what it was like to live and struggle and try to survive in a foreign country, even though we have a shared language.

I finally got to actually meet John Hurt when he uninvitedly crashed a rather wild birthday party for me that was being thrown by Gay Sweatshop, the great radical homosexual theater group.

There was some man, clearly older than most of my contemporaries who were there, and doing the strangest things. Not the least of which was lurching about with his mouth wide open, his chin on his chest and his tongue lolling out of this mouth. and moaning instead of talking.

“Who IS that?” I asked my host. And he retorted, “Oh, don’t mind him. That’s John Hurt. He’s in character for the latest film he’s making.” And I just said, “Oh.” “It’s the Elephant Man,” my friend replied.

He was nominated for an Oscar for it, but he didn’t win.

He never won an Oscar. R.I.P. John Hurt

Oscar Noms “Manchester” Gets the Top Six

lucas-hedges-2 manchester-by-the-sea-9oscars-2017-3Well, Phase One of the 2017 Oscar Race is now officially done. And I’m pretty satisfied with the results of the nominations. My favorite film “Manchester by the Sea” got the Big Six. Best Picture, Best Actor, Casey Affleck, Best Supporting Actor, Lucas Hedges, Best Supporting Actress, Michelle Williams, Best Director Kenneth Lonergan and Best Original Screenplay Kenneth Lonergan again.

The big news is certainly “La La Land”s netting a historic 14 nods. I won’t go into them all here, but I am happy about “Manchester”s nods. They are all above the line, as the phrase goes, and absolutely none below the line. Below the line means the technical categories.

michelle-williams-2I still can’t believe my astonishment all these months later that a film this challenging, this original, this dark and this funny, the kind of film Hollywood should be making has received this acclaim and recognition. It certainly deserves it.

Kenneth Longeran is one of America’s most unsung talents, but his talents are certainly being sung now. By all and sundry. As they should be.casey-kennethThis is him directing Casey Affleck on location in the freezing cold wintry Manchester. He got QUITE a performance out of him. Affleck has received over thirty Best Actor awards for this film so far, and this morning he got an Oscar Nomination, too. He seems constantly astonished as if he can’t believe all this has happened to him.manchester-by-the-sea-10It’s a film I can’t stop thinking about. It has tremendous impact. It’s hauntimg.  It’s profound. It’s shattering.

And I am so happy for Casey, Michelle and Kenneth and Lucas Hedges just broke several stats being the youngest male ever nominated in the Supporting Actor category. 19 or 20 or so.

And the biggest stat breaker is the nomination in the Acting categories of no less than seven actors of color, Viola Davis, Octavia Spenser, Naomie Harris, Ruth Negga, Denzel Washington, Mahershala Ali and Dev Patel.

It’s really a joyous day and it proves that there is indeed progress being made within the walls of the Academy. #Oscarssowhite no more.oscars-4

Oscar Noms Out! Ruth Negga, Michael Shannon In! Amy Adams Out!

oscars-2017ruth-negga-1I made it. I got up. Watched it. The announcement of the nominations were dull as dishwater. But congratulations to Ruth Negga, pictured above,^ for the devoted wife in “Loving.” The Irish Black actress is the only woman of color in the Best Actress category. Amy Adams of “Arrival” is the one who got squeezed out. Emma Stone in “La La Land”, Natalie Portman in “Jackie”, Meryl Streep “Florence Foster Jenkins” and Isabelle Huppert in “Elle” were the other nominees for Best Actress.

Best Supporting Actor contained the surprise of the morning. Michael Shannon was nominated for “Nocturnal Animals” and not co=star Aaron Taylor-Johnson, who just won the Golden Globe in this category. This breaks an all time stat that says anyone who wins a Golden Globe is definitely going to be nominated for an Oscar. Not anymore. Poor Aaron. But Yay! For Michael who I know and have interviewed many times. The others in this category were Mahershala Ali for “Moonlight”, who is the probable winner, previous winner Jeff Bridges for “Hell or High Water”, Dev Patel for “Lion” and I’m very happy to report that young Lucas Hedges got in for “Manchester by the Sea” squeeeeesing out Hugh Grant. Who therefore STILL remains un-nominated.lucas-hedges-2

Best Actor and Supporting Actress were exactly who I predicted, Viola Davis stayed in Supporting Actress for “Fences” and that move will probably lock down her first Oscar in this category. Also nominated were Michelle Williams for “Manchester by the Sea”michelle-williams-2Octavia Spenser for “Hidden Figures”, Nicole Kidman for “Lion” and Naomie Harris for “Moonlight.”

In Best Actor, the five remained “THE FIVE” Led by Casey Affleck for “Manchester by the Sea”,lucas-hedges-1

manchester-by-the-sea-9Ryan Gosling for “La La Land”, Andrew Garfield for “Hacksaw Ridge”, Denzel Washington for “Fences” and Viggo Mortensen for “Captain Fantastic”.

“La La Land” I think made history with fourteen nominations! The most for any musical EVER!la-la-land-9

And SEVEN actors and actresses of color got in. Ruth Negga, Mahersala Ali, Naomie Harris, Dev Patel, Octavia Spenser, Denzel Washington and Viola Davis another historic record. And three films with African American themes were nominated for Best Picture. “Hidden Figures”, “Fences” and “Moonlight”, the last two having all black casts. And “Lion” having an Indian setting and cast.

Other nominees for Best Picture were “La La Land”, “Manchester by the Sea”, “Moonlight”, “Hidden Figures”, “Hell or High Water”, “Hacksaw Ridge”,”Lion”and “Fences.”

Ali and Davis sure look like they have their two Supporting Oscars sewn up already and can anyone beat “La La Land” with its’ historic nomination haul? I would say it’s already over. The winners being “La La Land” for Best Piicture, Casey Affleck for Best Actor and the lovely Emma Stone for being the beating heart of “La La Land.”

#Oscar noms

#La La Land 14 nominations

# Casey Affleck Best Actor Oscar Nomination

# Lucas Hedges Best Supporting Actor Oscar Nomination

#Mahershala Ali Best Supporting Actor Oscar Nomination

#Viola Davis Best Supporting Actress Oscar Nomination







On Oscar Nom Eve, Sasha Stone takes a Poll for Best Actress


It’s the Eve of the Oscar nomination announcements. And in New York, the weather couldn’t be worse. It’s  cold and rainy. It could be snowing. That might make it romantic, but it’s not. It’s one of those nights that you have to stay in or else. And it’s a Monday, too.

Monday is the deadest night on Broadway, where I more or less live.  Most shows don’t perform on Monday nights. It used to be Sundays were the days the actors in the shows had off, but producers noticed how well they did with Sunday matinees when they tried them. They sure beat Monday nights. So Monday became the dark night on Broadway. And I didn’t plan ahead and have an interesting film to watch on DVD. And there’s nothing on TV, as usual.

So surfing the Oscar sites I find that my home away from home, http://www.awardsdaily.com did a poll of its’ readers regarding the VERY crowded Best Actress race. The OVER crowded best actress race. It’s the first time that I’ve been covering the Oscars that this has happened. Usually, there’s a dearth of choices in this category, but not this year.

And I took the poll and I’m happy to report in outline, the results, which were the same as I announced in my last predictions earlier today. Emma Stone, Natalie Portman, Amy Adams, Isabelle Huppert and Meryl Streep. In that order. You can go to awardsdaily to see the exact totals and take the poll yourself. It’s fun. It’s gratifying to know that Sasha and I and her readers are still so in sync.

She makes a very good point, as she always does, about how they have to LOVE you to give you the Oscar. And love the film, too.

I was going to write something about poor Emily Blunt, but then I saw “Jitney” on Broadway and loved it and decided to spend my day reviewing it. And also predicting the Oscars.

emily-bluntI have interviewed Emily several times over the years and have watched her grow into one of our greatest screen actresses. She has a SAG nomination and also a BAFTA nom for her role in “Girl on a Train” which I finally caught up with and she’s very, very good in it, but the movie sucks.

Where is Alfred Hitchcock now when we really need him? What the late great Master of Suspense could have done with  this “Girl” we are only left to wonder. Emily is sooooo good in this dramatic role of a depressed, recent divorce who drinks far too much and has almost constant black-outs. It’s  a very interesting role, and I can see why Emily wanted to do it. But there is virtually no suspense whatsoever in this rather drab depressing thriller.

We should’ve been on the edge of our seats but instead we’re looking to get off this slow train to nowhere. Director Tate Taylor basically killed this best seller, which as a novel is still flying off the shelves. Known for directing “The Help,” he needed HELP directing this film. Poor Emily.

So will she win an Oscar nomination for this despite SAG and BAFTA. No. But watch her next outing as a live acting “Mary Poppins.” That’s an award-winning role, see Julie Andrews. But I know Emily takes her acting very seriously, though the public mainly knows her for her comic chops. “The Devil Wears Prada”, “Into the Woods” etc. But in “Girl” she does acquit herself perfectly well, but the film, no cigar. Therefore no Oscar nomination. Not in such a crowded field. AMPAS voters will just not feel the urge to pop a film in their DVD players that has got a Rotten Rating  of something like 43 % from Rotten Tomatoes. Oh well, Emily darling, NEXT year!

And I should be in bed, asleep, so I can get up early and view the Oscar nominations as they are announced. I STILL don’t have an alarm clock but somehow I always wake up in time. And so…to bed!oscars-2017




Final Oscar Nomination Predictions, Actor, Actress, Picture

oscars-2017Well, tomorrow is the day, dear readers, dear cibest-actress-montageneastes! The 2017 Oscar Nominations will be announced bright and early and I can’t wait!

So to go with my final predictions for Best Supporting Actor and Actress which I posted yesterday here are the remaining lead categories.

 This is what Best Actress would look like if Viola Davis was put in lead, which she may be, for her powerful turn as the wronged house-wife Rose Maxson in “Fences.”

Emma Stone is leading the pack with her delicious turn as an aspiring actress for the ages in the tremendously popular valentine to today’s Hollywood in “La La Land.”

Then left to right, there’s Natalie Portman as Jackie Kennedy in “Jackie,” the aforementioned Davis, six time nominee Amy Adams for “Arrival” and grand ole dame Meryl Streep playing a grand ole dame “Florence Foster Jenkins.”

But let’s not forget the formidable Frenchieisabelle-huppert-2Isabelle Huppert for the French language “Elle.” She’s won the Golden Globe, the LA Film Critics, and the New York Film Critics, a stats bustin’ trifecta of honors, so I think the academy will HAVE to include her. Who gets knocked out? Well, if Viola Davis stays in Supporting, Huppert is in. Otherwise it might be Amy Adams.

For best actor, there is virtually no contest. But here’s The Five. All nominated also for BAFTA except Denzel Washington, who was replaced by Jake Gyllenhaal for “Nocturnal Animals.” But without a doubt it’s Casey Affleck’s tortured parent in “Manchester by the Sea.”casey-affleck-adThe other tag-alongs will be former Spider-Man Andrew Garfield in “Hacksaw Ridge,” Viggo Mortensen in “Captain Fantastic” and Ryan Gosling in “La La Land.”

Best Picture I think will contain the surprise inclusion of BAFTA favorite, “Nocturnal Animals” which hasn’t been showing up state-side quite as strongly as it has been in Europe. There is a really large voting block of Brits in AMPAS we mustn’t forget.jake-gyllenhaal-nocturnal-animals-2

And of course, there will be the favorite so far, “La La Land” which is the film that will get the most nominations maybe a historic 14!la-la-land-9Then we have “Manchester by the Sea,” “Moonlight”, “Hidden Figures”, “Hell or HighWater”, “Hacksaw Ridge”, and hopefully “Jackie”. I don’t think “Fences” is going to make it.

Final Oscar Nomination Predictions!Supp. Actor & Actress

Army of OscarsOk, the Oscar Nominations are going to be announced at 8:15 AM EST. That’s at the ungodly hour of 5:15 am PST! Ugh! That’s sooooo early! I don’t know how the Left Coasters do it. And for all these years! They must stay up all night, they’re so excited. But this year’s announcements are going to be very different. No live audience. It’s going to be pre-taped on a live feed. I don’t understand the contradiction of that statement. It’s just that the real audience of press, press agents and publicists, will be gone….To be replaced by what? A simple staid staged reading of the lists of the nominees .Zzzzzzzzz……

That sounds like they’re letting all the air out of the balloon. And they’re worried about ratings! Although I’m excited as I’ve always been. some people think that this has been an off-year. Not I.

In any case here are my own predictions. I’m pretty sure of most of them. As sure as anyone can be. Of course, there will be surprises. Like for instance if they put Viola Davis in lead. That would blow this whole Oscar operation to smithereens.

Let’s start with Supporting.

  1. Viola Davis “Fences”(IF she stays in this category, she wins.)
  2. Michelle Williams “Manchester by the Sea” (If Viola switches out, Michelle wins.)
  3. Naomie Harris “Moonlight”( I’ve been saying this ever since I saw her astounding portrayal of the crack-head Mom at the NYFF.)
  4. Nicole Kidman “Lion” (vulnerable. But she’s got Harvey Weinstein behind her.)
  5. Octavia Spenser(The safe of choice from “Hidden Figures” She also got SAG and BAFTA, but she’s won already.”
  6. Possible  Replacement by Janelle Mornae :”Hidden Figures” which is surging.and she’s also very good in “Moonlight.”)Oscars 2015Best Supporting Actor ~1. Marshela Ali( Didn’t win Globe. Very small but effective part in a gay movie & the Academy is notoriously homophobic. Look what they did to
    “Carol” last year!  2. Dev Patel, “Lion” (Coming on strong with the Weinstein machine behind him. But I wonder…) 3. Aaron Taylor-Johnson “Nocturnal Animals”(He won the Globes and is nominated for BAFTA. No one who has won a Golden Globe as ever not also received an Oscar Nomination. I’m thinking “Nocturnal Animals” is stronger than people expected. Pictured below.)aaron-taylor-johnson-winning-golden-globe 4. Lucas Hedges “Manchester by the Sea” (He was brilliant in it and though he’s only 21, I wonder if the film would be as unforgettable as it is without his wonderful/funny/sad/angry  performance.) 5. Kevin Costner “Hidden Figures” (They always have to honor a veteran and “Hidden Figures” is surging at the box-office, like “Nocturnal Animals” and “Lion.”)lucas-hedges-1Possible replacement Hugh Grant “Florence Foster Jenkins” (An unnominated veteran but his performance wasn’t that good. He was just sort of THERE.Flat.Twee only goes so far. Not an Oscar-baity performance. Just a dapper prop for Meryl.)

“Jitney” Roars and Soars in August Wilson Revival on Bway

jitney-2It is rare indeed that a new Broadway production resembles an ole-time religion revival meeting. And yet “Jitney” at the Samuel J. Friedman theater does just that without nary a song or musical instrument visible. The music you see is all in the vibrant, earth-shaking, poetic dialogue of the late August Wilson. One feels his passing more acutely than ever. But his heart and his strong soul live on forever in his work. And no where can you feel it more strongly than his excellent play “Jitney.”

No one was more surprised than I, since I had since “Jitney” in a lack-luster production Off Broadway by the Second Stage nearly two decades ago. Set in the 1970s, in the Hill District of Pittsburgh, “Jitney” seems to have grown in size and scope since last I saw it. In Rueben Santiago-Hudson’s razor-sharp, muscular staging, “Jitney” presents us unbelievably with a great NEW American play. And the theater season and the theater is better for it.

All of the Jitney cab-drivers presented here in a stunning ensemble of powerful actors’ acting up a storm, playing ordinary men struggling to get out of their ordinary lives and trapped there by The Man. There’s not a single white character onstage in “Jitney” but you feel the white man’s power still imprisoning them all in their low paying jobs and their lowered expectations of life.

The Jitney cab company here depicted on David  Gallo’s extraordinarily detailed and evocative set seems to reek of tabacco, sweat and half-drunk cold coffee. The one sofa is held together by duct tape, and it’s coffee table is propped up on cement blocks. But yet these cab drivers seem to feel exhilarated if not free. It’s because they’ve all found decent jobs driving these jitneys, ferrying their black customers to other black areas of the Hill. And their filthy, battered pay phone is constantly ringing with calls because they know they are the only cabs in town that will pick them up and take them anywhere.

That nerve-wracking jangle of the phone never stops ringing like that for the length of the play. Business seems to be booming. And then you realize that they are the only ones who will take their people anywhere. So thank god these men are their to answer these constant calls.

The cast is excellent. Andre Holland, who is also one of the stars of the Golden Globe Award Winner  for Best Picture, “Moonlight”moonlight-3 is particularly fine here as a young Viet Nam vet trying to process everything that happened to him since he’s had to return to Pittsburgh after that unjust war and is trying to find a home and start a family with Carra Patterson.jitney-1Both are graduates of NYU Grad Acting I have to point out. Holland is having a terrific year playing the love interest in both works. He is a rising star who has risen and it’s a pleasure to see his talent blossoming in to its’ fulfillment.

By contrast, we have the deadly father-son duo of John Douglas Thompson and his sonjitney-3Brandon J. Dirden, who has just gotten out of twenty years in the state penitentiary for murder. “Jitney” reaches Shakespearean heights and shakes the rafters as the two confront each other with a lifetime of pain, loss and regret.

John Douglas Thomspon is surely one of our great, unsung classical actors and he’s found his great role here as just. fair man who is the overworked proprietor of this Jitney cab company. He is once a towering pinnacle of strength, but is reduced to tears by the plight of his ne’er-do-well son, who he never even went once to see in the 20 years of his incarceration.

The first play August Wilson ever wrote it is said, it is the last one of finally reach Broadway years after his death. Thank god, it’s finally here and in such a heaven-sent production,


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