Harvy Blanks (West) made his Two River debut last season in August Wilson’s Jitney. He has been a member of the Denver Center Theater Company since 1985. Some of his credits at the Denver Center include Fences, Joe Turner's Come and Gone, Gem of the Ocean, King Hedley II, Jitney and The Piano Lesson (all by August Wilson), and A Streetcar Named Desire. In New York, Harvy received a Drama Desk Award for his performance as Oscar in Tabletop. Other noted New York productions include The First Breeze of Summer (Signature Theatre), The Guest of Central Park West (WorkShop Theater Company), and A Prophet Among Them (Blue Heron Theatre). Harvy was nominated for an Ovation Award for the Lake Dillon Theatre Company production of Driving Miss Daisy.
Anthony Chisholm (Hambone) returns to Two River, where he played Fielding last season in August Wilson’s Jitney; he won Obie and Drama Desk Awards for the original Off-Broadway production, and also played the role of Fielding at the Mark Taper Forum and in London at the Royal National Theatre (Olivier Award for Best Play). He received a Tony nomination for his performance as Elder Joseph Barlow in August Wilson’s Radio Golf; his other Broadway credits include Wilson’s Two Trains Running and Gem of the Ocean. He is the recipient of NAACP, AUDELCO, Ovation, and IRNE Awards; he has also received nominations for Drama Desk, Drama League, Joseph Jefferson, Ovation, NAACP, and AUDELCO Awards. Mr. Chisholm appeared in The Tracers, Ice Bridge, and King Lear for The Public/NYSF. Other theater credits include The Mighty Gents, Back in the World, Melvin Van Peebles’ Ain’t Supposed To Die a Natural Death (first national tour), and Charles Gordone’s No Place to Be Somebody, as well as Tracers at London’s Royal Court and in Sydney and Melbourne, Australia. Regional credits include The Train Driver (Long Wharf), I Am a Man (Goodman), I Just Stopped By to See the Man (Steppenwolf), Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Denver Center Theatre Company, Cleveland Play House), Fences (Indiana Rep) and Driving Miss Daisy (Portland Stage). His film/TV credits include 13, Blackout, Reign Over Me, Langhorne in Beloved, 100 Center Street (Emmy consideration), Hack (recurring role), Law & Order: SVU, Vietnam War Stories (Cable Ace nomination), Third Watch, Premium Rush (currently in release), this year’s Sundance entry Newlyweeds (due for a 2013 release), and HBO’s Oz as series regular Burr Redding.
Chuck Cooper (Memphis) was seen at Two River last season in the new musical In This House and August Wilson’s Jitney. He most recently appeared in Wilson’s The Piano Lesson at the Signature Theatre. He is a veteran of 10 Broadway plays and musicals, and numerous television and film guest lead appearances over the span of his 30 years as a professional actor. He won the 1996 Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a musical for his portrayal of Memphis in The Life. Other Broadway credits include: Finian’s Rainbow; Lennon; Caroline, or Change (AUDELCO Award, Best Featured Actor); Chicago; Passion; Someone to Watch Over Me; Rumors; Amen Corner; Getting Away With Murder. Off-Broadway: Lost In the Stars (Encores); On the Levee (LCT3); Thunder Knocking on the Door (Minetta Lane, AUDELCO nomination); Colored People's Time (Negro Ensemble Co.); and more. Regional credits include: All My Sons (Intiman); Dance of the Holy Ghosts (Yale Rep); Robeson (Passage Theatre); Othello (New Jersey Shakespeare Festival); Julius Caesar (Philadelphia Drama Guild); Hamlet, Twelfth Night (Shakespeare Theatre, DC); Coriolanus, Timon of Athens, Two Trains Running (San Diego Critics Circle Award, The Old Globe); and more. Television: Gossip Girl; Nurse Jackie; Hack; 100 Centre Street; Law & Order; SVU; Oz; NYPD Blue; Cosby; New York Undercover; I'll Fly Away; and more. Film: Boy Wonder; Noise; Evening; American Gangster; Find Me Guilty; Three Days of Rain; The Hurricane; The Opportunists; Gloria; The Juror; North. Mr. Cooper was a Beinecke Fellow at the Yale School of Drama. Favorite role: Eddie, Alex, and Lilli’s father. www.chuckcooper.net. Contact EBONYACTOR@aol.com.
John Earl Jelks
John Earl Jelks (Wolf) was nominated for a Tony Award for his performance as Sterling in August Wilson’s Radio Golf, which he also toured to the McCarter, Goodman, CENTERSTAGE, Seattle Rep, Mark Taper Forum, and Yale Rep. Jelks also appeared with Phylicia Rashad on Broadway in August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean as Citizen (after runs at the Goodman, Huntington, and Mark Taper, where he won an NAACP Theatre Award and an L.A. Ovation Award). In 2008, he won an AUDELCO Award for his work in the Off-Broadway revival of The First Breeze of Summer. Jelks also appeared Off-Broadway in MCC’s production of Neil LaBute’s The Break of Noon with David Duchovny, Amanda Peet, and Tracee Chimo. Regional theater: Fetch Clay, Make Man at McCarter Theatre; the world stage premiere of The Shawshank Redemption at the Gaiety Theatre in Ireland; Magnolia at the Goodman Theatre; Joe Turner’s Come and Gone at Penumbra Theatre Company and Missouri Repertory Theatre. Recently, Jelks appeared as Lt. Ike Murray in the film Snap; as the Man in the Desert in The Miraculous, a short film co-directed and co-written by Laurel Nakadate and Brent Stewart; and as Jermaine Dansby Sr. in the Spike Lee-helmed TV movie Da Brick. On TV, his guest starring roles include Mr. Achok on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and Ray Bell on Blue Bloods.
Owiso Odera (Sterling) appeared Off-Broadway in the US premiere of The Overwhelming (Roundabout Theatre Company) and Romeo and Juliet (The Public Theater/New York Shakespeare Festival). Regional theater credits include: August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean (A.C.T, San Francisco), directed by Mr. Santiago-Hudson; the title role in Othello (Folger Theatre, Washington DC); the world premiere of Samuel J. & K. at Williamstown Theatre Festival (Williamstown, MA); Groundswell, Titus Andronicus, Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Merry Wives of Windsor (The Old Globe, San Diego); Love of Three Oranges (La Jolla Playhouse); Macbeth (Commonwealth Shakespeare Company, Boston). Television: Blue Bloods (CBS), Numb3rs (CBS), The Unit (CBS), FlashForward (ABC), recurring roles on Three Rivers (CBS) and DIRT (FX). Film: The Thirst (Blood Wars), Relative Obscurity, Acholiland, and the upcoming Orenthal: The Musical and H4. Training: The Acting Studio, New York; MFA from the University of California, San Diego. It is an honor and a privilege to live in the world that is an August Wilson play. For my grandmother Teresa Olewe Ogara; so, live...
Roslyn Ruff (Risa) made her Two River debut last season in August Wilson’s Jitney, and was most recently seen in Wilson’s The Piano Lesson at the Signature Theatre. Broadway: Fences (standby). Off-Broadway: Love, Loss, and What I Wore; Macbeth (TFANA); The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter and Things of Dry Hours (both New York Theatre Workshop); Seven Guitars (Signature); Killa Dilla; The Cherry Orchard and Macbeth (both Classical Theatre of Harlem); Pudd'nhead Wilson and The Taming of the Shrew (both The Acting Company). Regional work includes: Geffen Playhouse, Berkeley Rep, Long Wharf, The Kennedy Center, Indiana Rep, Geva Theatre, The Old Globe, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Alliance Theatre, McCarter Theatre, A.C.T., Yale Rep, People’s Light & Theatre Co. International: BBC Radio; 2004 Bonn Biennale Festival and Shakespeare Festival of Neuss; 2003 Athens Festival. Film: Detachment, The Help, Salt, Life During Wartime, Rachel Getting Married, In the Blood. TV: Masters of Sex, A Gifted Man (Nurse Sulla), The Big C, The Good Wife, The Jury, The Sopranos. Awards: 2010 Drama League nomination for Distinguished Performance, 2007 Obie Award for Performance, 2003 Barrymore Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Play. MFA: IATT at Harvard University.
James A. Williams
James A. Williams (Holloway) made his Two River debut last season in August Wilson’s Jitney. He most recently appeared in Wilson’s The Piano Lesson at the Signature Theatre, where he also starred in Athol Fugard’s My Children! My Africa!. He has worked in regional theaters across the country as an actor and educator. Nationally, he has an extensive performing history with Center Stage, Goodman Theatre, Mark Taper Forum, McCarter, Seattle Rep, and Yale Rep culminating on Broadway in August Wilson’s Radio Golf. Williams performed multiple roles in The Kennedy Center’s August Wilson’s Century Cycle, and Off-Broadway in August Wilson’s Jitney and Marion McClinton’s Walkers. A founding company member of Penumbra Theatre in St. Paul, Minnesota, he is Director of Teen Programming at Pillsbury House Theatre. He is also Artistic Director for the Hennepin County Home School Theatre Project and a teaching artist with the International Theatre and Literacy Project. He has led performance workshops at University of Minnesota, Brown University, Macalester College, Colby College, the International School of Kenya, and Akeri and Nshupu Secondary Schools in Tanzania. A 2005 NAACP Image Award nominee, he was awarded the St. Paul Companies Leadership Initiative in the Neighborhoods Grant. He was named Actor of the Year by City Pages Magazine and Artist of the Year by the Minneapolis Star Tribune. He is a TCG New Generations Fellow.
August Wilson (Playwright), April 27, 1945—Oct. 2, 2005, was the author of a 10-play cycle about the African-American experience, each one set in a different decade of the 20th Century. His early years were spent in the Hill District of Pittsburgh, the setting for all but one of his plays. The plays in the Pittsburgh Cycle (also called the Century Cycle) have been produced across the United States, on Broadway, and all over the world. Two Trains Running—for which Wilson was a Pulitzer Prize finalist and a Tony Award nominee—had its debut at Yale Repertory Theatre in 1990 and opened on Broadway in 1992. The other plays in the cycle are Gem of the Ocean, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, The Piano Lesson, Seven Guitars, Fences, Jitney, King Hedley II, and Radio Golf. In 2003, Wilson made his professional stage debut as an actor in his one-man show, How I Learned What I Learned. He was the recipient of numerous awards, including two Pulitzer Prizes (for Fences and The Piano Lesson), a Tony Award for Fences, Great Britain’s Olivier Award for Jitney, seven New York Drama Critics’ Circle Awards for best play, and many other honors, fellowships, and honorary degrees. Broadway’s August Wilson Theatre on West 52nd Street was renamed in his honor on October 16, 2005.
Ruben Santiago-Hudson (Director) returns to Two River, where he directed August Wilson’s Jitney last season. His other recent directing credits include Athol Fugard’s My Children! My Africa! and Wilson’s The Piano Lesson, both for Signature Theatre. 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 Things of Dry Hours (New York Theatre Workshop), Radio Golf (Kennedy Center), Seven Guitars and The First Breeze of Summer (both for Signature Theatre Company, where he was an Associate Artist 2008-2009). Santiago-Hudson made his Broadway acting debut in Jelly’s 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 Stick Fly (Broadway), A Winter’s Tale (Shakespeare in the Park), and Gem of the Ocean (Broadway). His film credits include Their Eyes Were Watching God, American Gangster, Mr. Brooks, Shaft, Devil’s Advocate, Domestic Disturbance, among many others. He was most recently seen on TV in the ABC show Castle as Captain Roy Montgomery; his other TV credits include: Person of Interest, Forgotten Genius, The Red Sneakers, American Tragedy, Solomon and Sheba, Rear Window, Michael Hayes, The West Wing, and Law & Order. He has been honored with numerous awards, including an Obie, Outer Critics Circle, Dramalogue, Clarence Derwent, Glen G. Bartle, and Helen Hayes Awards, the Distinguished Alumni Award from Wayne State University, two AUDELCO Awards, a Black Filmmaker’s Award, a NAMIC Award, and an HBO Comedy Arts Festival Theater Award. Santiago-Hudson was honored with an NAACP Lifetime Achievement Theatre Award in 2009. He is the recipient of an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Buffalo State College.
Michael Carnahan (Scenic Designer) Off-Broadway: The Piano Lesson (Signature Theatre); The First Breeze of Summer (Signature Theatre, AUDELCO Award); The Marvelous Wonderettes; Three Mo’ Tenors; Pygmalion; Howie the Rookie; Brando. Regional: American Conservatory Theater, McCarter Theatre, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Pasadena Playhouse, Cleveland Play House, Laguna Playhouse, Utah Shakespearean Festival, Northlight Theatre, Signature Theatre (Arlington, VA), Ogunquit Playhouse, Arsht Center, Musical Theatre West, San Jose Repertory. Broadway (Associate Scenic Designer): ANN: The Ann Richards Play; Cyrano de Bergerac; Peter and The Starcatcher; The Importance of Being Earnest; Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson; All About Me; White Christmas; Curtains.
Karen Perry (Costume Designer) designed August Wilson’s Jitney last season at Two River and, most recently, The Piano Lesson for Signature Theatre. Other recent credits include the 10th Anniversary production of Crowns, written and directed by Regina Taylor (Goodman); Pearl Cleage’s Blues for an Alabama Sky, dir. Sheldon Epps (Pasadena Playhouse); John Grisham’s A Time to Kill, dir. Ethan McSweeny (Arena); Regina Taylor's Trinity River Plays, dir. McSweeny (Dallas Theater Center, Goodman); Walter Mosley’s The Fall of Heaven, dir. Marion McClinton (Cincinnati Playhouse); The Brother/Sister Plays by Pulitzer nominee Tarell McCraney, dir. Tina Landau (The Public) and Landau and Robert O’Hara (McCarter); Things of Dry Hours by Naomi Wallace, dir. Ruben Santiago-Hudson (NYTW); Having Our Say, written and directed by Emily Mann (McCarter); and Resurrection by Daniel Beaty, dir. Oz Scott (Arena). Her regional credits include six August Wilson productions: Gem of the Ocean, The Piano Lesson, King Hedley II, Radio Golf, Two Trains Running, and Seven Guitars. Honors include 2008 and 2006 AUDELCO Awards; the 2007 San Diego Theatre Critics Circle Award; the 2006 “Woodie” Award; and the 2005 National Black Theatre Festival’s Lifetime Achievement Award; as well as AUDELCO, Henry Hewes, and Lortel nominations. Select film/TV credits include: Saturday Night Live and The Brother from Another Planet by director John Sayles.
Xavier Pierce (Lighting Designer) Recent credits include: DRUMLIne Live (National and International Tour); Associate Lighting Designer for Clybourne Park (Walter Kerr Theatre, Broadway). Regional credits include: Westport Country Playhouse (Westport, CT), Intiman Theatre (Seattle, WA), Crossroads Theatre Company (New Brunswick, NJ), Peterborough Players (New Hampshire), Kentucky Performing Arts Center, South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center, Santa Fe Opera, Utah Shakespearean Festival, and Arena Stage, where he was an Allen Lee Hughes Lighting Design Fellow. He lit the Grand Opening of the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center with director Heidi Marshall. He is a graduate of New York University Tisch School of the Arts MFA in Design for Stage and Film and a member of the United Scenic Artist Local 829.
Robert Kaplowitz (Sound Designer) has been lucky enough to spend the last 20 years composing and designing sound, and has been honored with an Obie for Sustained Excellence in Sound Design and a Tony Award for Fela!. Previously with Mr. Santiago-Hudson: My Children! My Africa! (Signature Theatre); previously with Two River: Uncle Vanya directed by Dr. Rechnitz himself. He lives in Philadelphia, where he’s created work with PlayPenn, Arden, Interact, Wilma, Philadelphia Theatre Company, People’s Light & Theatre Company, Elastic Theatre, Azuka, Walnut Street 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. He is married to a former John Deere Catalog Model whom he loves, along with his son Niall, more than any work he’s ever done.
Bill Sims Jr.
Bill Sims Jr. (Composer) is an internationally respected “Master of the Blues.” With the Heritage Blues Orchestra, he is a 2012 Grammy nominee for “And Still I Rise” in the category of Best Blues Album. His recent theater credits include August Wilson’s Jitney at Two River last season and, most recently, 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 Ruby’s 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. www.billsimsjr.com.
Hair and Makeup Design
Valerie Gladstone (Hair and Makeup Design) is thrilled to be working with Ruben Santiago-Hudson on another August Wilson play. Theater credits include The Piano Lesson, Seven Guitars, and The Last Breeze of Summer, all at Signature Theatre. Film credits include The Great Debaters, Black Swan, For Colored Girls, and The Wolf of Wall Street (upcoming). She is the owner of a new company, Brooklyn Dollworks.
Heidi Griffiths (Casting) has been a casting director for more than two decades working in theater, film, and television. She previously cast August Wilson’s Jitney and Topdog/Underdog, written and directed by Suzan-Lori Parks, for Two River Theater. She has worked for more than 20 years at the Joseph Papp Public Theater in NYC, casting over 200 productions Off-Broadway and at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park, including Shakespeare, new plays, and musicals. On Broadway: 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.
Production Stage Manager
Amanda Michaels (Production Stage Manager) Previous PSM credits at Two River: Topdog/Underdog, August Wilson’s Jitney, A Thousand Clowns, Intimate Apparel, Orestes: A Tragic Romp, Heartbreak House, and Craig Wright’s Melissa Arctic. Broadway: On a Clear Day You Can See Forever with Harry Connick Jr., PA; Side Show (reading, Roundabout), ASM; A Bronx Tale (Walter Kerr), PA; 24 Hour Play Series (American Airlines Theatre), ASM. Off-Broadway: My Children! My Africa (Signature), PSM; Dutch Masters with LAByrinth Theater Company (Cherry Lane), SM; How to Be a Good Italian Daughter (Cherry Lane), PSM; Two Trains Running (Signature), PA. Regional The Conference of the Birds, Cyrano, and Orestes: A Tragic Romp (Folger Shakespeare Theatre), PSM; To Kill a Mockingbird, I Capture the Castle, School for Wives, and Private Lives (Shakespeare Theatre of NJ), PSM.