Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Tony Award-Winner Lillias White, Keith David, Jason Dirden, Glynn Turman and More Set for MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM, Directed by Phylicia Rashad at the Mark Taper Forum, Aug. 31-Oct. 16

Center Theatre Group is presenting August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom which begins previews August 31, opens September 11 and continues through October 16, 2016, at the Mark Taper Forum.

Phylicia Rashad, who directed Wilson’s Joe Turner’s Come and Gone at the Taper in 2013, will direct this groundbreaking play that depicts the racism and exploitation in the music industry through a 1927 recording session in Chicago with a legendary blues singer. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is inspired by the real-life Gertrude “Ma” Rainey.

Ma Rainey 2Tony award-winner Lillias White (Fela!, The Life) stars as Ma Rainey, with Jason Dirden (A Raisin in the Sun) as Levee, Tony nominee Keith David (Jelly’s Last Jam) as Slow Drag, Glynn Turman (House of Lies) as Toledo, Greg Bryan as Policeman, Damon Gupton (Clybourne Park) as Cutler, Matthew Henerson (Flashdance the Musical) as Sturdyvant, Nija Okoro as Dussie Mae, Lamar Richardson as Sylvester and Ed Swidey as Irvin.

Scenic design is by John Iacovelli, costume design is by Emilio Sosa, lighting design is by Elizabeth Harper, sound design is by Dan Moses Schreier and the production stage manager is David Blackwell.

“This play is a searing inside account of what white racism does to its victims – and it floats on the same authentic artistry as the blues music it celebrates. Harrowing as ‘Ma Rainey’s’ can be, it is also funny, salty, carnal and lyrical,” said Frank Rich of The New York Times of the Broadway opening in 1984. Jack Kroll of Newsweek also said of Wilson’s debut Broadway play, “Extraordinary! Ma Rainey rides on the exultant notes of the blues!”

Center Theatre Group has presented eight of August Wilson’s plays: Jitney and the Tony Award-nominated plays King Hedley II, Gem of the Ocean, Radio Golf and Joe Turner’s Come and Gone at the Taper, the Tony Award-nominated play Seven Guitars at the Ahmanson Theatre, and the Tony Award-nominated plays Two Trains Running and The Piano Lesson (1990 Pulitzer Prize) at the Doolittle Theatre in Hollywood. Wilson’s Fences won both the 1987 Pulitzer Prize and the Tony Award.

Center Theatre Group, one of the nation’s preeminent arts and cultural organizations, is Los Angeles’ leading nonprofit theatre company, programming seasons at the 736-seat Mark Taper Forum and 1600 to 2000-seat Ahmanson Theatre at The Music Center in Downtown Los Angeles, and the 317-seat Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City. In addition to presenting and producing the broadest range of theatrical entertainment in the country, Center Theatre Group is one of the nation’s leading producers of ambitious new works through commissions and world premiere productions and a leader in interactive community engagement and education programs that reach across generations, demographics and circumstance to serve Los Angeles.

Tickets for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom are available by calling (213) 628-2772 or online at Tickets range from $25 – $85 (ticket prices are subject to change). The Mark Taper Forum is located at the Music Center, 135 N. Grand Avenue in Downtown L.A. 90012.

Video: Getting to Know Tony Award Winner Lillias White, Star of the Broadway-Bound World Premiere of ‘Gotta Dance’ 

Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

Lia Chang_photo by Garth Kravits

Lia Chang_photo by Garth Kravits

Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers,  musicians and corporations. Lia is also an internationally published and exhibited photographer, a multi-platform journalist, and a publicist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in Examiner.comJade Magazine and

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