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August Wilson’s Jitney

Members say: Great acting, Absorbing, Great writing, Masterful, Thought-provoking
54 reviews
378 reviews

Manhattan Theatre Club presents the Broadway debut of August Wilson’s play about a group of African-American cab drivers eking out a living in '70s Pittsburgh. Winner of the 2017 Tony Award for Best Revival.

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When the city threatens to board up the business and the boss’ son returns from a 20-year prison stint, tempers flare, potent secrets are revealed, and the bonds between these men start to come undone. MTC has a long history of co-producing works by this legendary playwright, including 'King Hedley II,' 'Seven Guitars,' and 'The Piano Lesson.' 'Previously produced Off-Broadway, 'Jitney' is the last of Wilson's 'Century Cycle' plays to make it to Broadway, and is directed by Tony winner Ruben Santiago-Hudson.


Cast & Creatives (18)

Reviews (432)

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
Avg Score

The New York Times

Conversation sings and swings, bends and bounces and hits heaven smack in the clouds, in the glorious new production of August Wilson’s 'Jitney'...Acted by an impeccably tuned ensemble...There’s no way a theatergoer can watch 'Jitney' without feeling the pulsing, defiant aliveness of every character onstage...Conversation becomes performance art, and part of the pleasure of watching this peerless cast is the delight its characters take in listening to the others riffing." Full Review


"Thoughtful and heartrending production...A deeply satisfying drama that leaves us grappling with these issues as they pertain to the present day...Unfortunately, Dirden is miscast, appearing entirely too comfortable and hale for a man who has just been released from two decades behind bars...Luckily, great performances outnumber mediocre ones in this stellar revival, which has been directed with loving attention to detail by Ruben Santiago-Hudson." Full Review


"A superb production filled with funk, grit, humor and some positively thrilling acting…It's the final moments of the first act that display the thrilling dramatic fireworks…Wilson's dialogue displays a keen ear for the evolving musicality of language in the district…While ‘Jitney's’ impact may not reach the magnitude of Wilson's zenith, ‘Fences,’ or outstanding work like ‘Ma Rainey's Black Bottom,' this compelling production is continually engaging and thick with humor and emotion." Full Review


"One of Wilson’s best plays...As one of his most realistic plays, 'Jitney' is filled with sharply observed characters who don’t immediately reveal themselves to the naked eye...His heartfelt feelings for his characters made Wilson a master of the ensemble play structure, which lives and dies on the human comedy of its characters...Under Santiago-Hudson’s sure hand, you can’t help but relish the performances." Full Review

Time Out New York

"A soul-sustaining, symphonic piece by a late, great master, about fathers and sons, workers and their dreams—deliverance for audiences hungry for soaring language and tough truths. Director Ruben Santiago-Hudson steers a powerhouse cast through the dense alleyways and along the majestic avenues of Wilson’s language...It’s not driven by plot so much as the impulses and chemistry of the characters. And they have been incarnated to perfection by a great group." Full Review

New York Magazine / Vulture

"The skills Wilson always possessed are jammed up against those he acquired with experience and distance. Santiago-Hudson’s staging tries to honor both, but is limited by the patchwork text...These feints at a kind of plot-by-collage keep devolving into sitcomery; the speeches that later in Wilson’s career would achieve a kind of oracular magnificence too often feel like filler...If in 'Jitney' we see the marks of Wilson’s ambition but not yet the payoff, that only makes it more valuable." Full Review

The Huffington Post

"Santiago-Hudson has become one of the surest practitioners of Wilson’s art. Perhaps due in part to his acting life, Santiago-Hudson helps his cast—each and every one—bring out the richness in the characters...An excellent production of an intriguing play, overflowing with that incomparable language of the master. But the script itself, as rich as it is in performance, is not quite an American classic and not quite up to the other nine plays." Full Review

The Guardian (UK)

"Much of the acting is extraordinary, particularly the lacerating father and son confrontation that closes the first act...One of Wilson’s great gifts has been locating the poetic and the performative in what strikes the ear as ordinary speech, to lift casual conversation into something more striking and more resonant. Santiago-Hudson, a longtime Wilson adherent as performer and director, has a fine ear for the play’s musicality." Full Review

Theater Life

"A dynamic revival...Director Ruben Santiago-Hudson brings out more humor than Marion McClinton did in his 2000 staging...The more serious moments are equally intense...John Douglas Thompson, one of our best actors in classical roles, turns in his usual stellar work as Becker, skillfully displaying the man’s strength and his heartbreak. Brandon J. Dirden is a worthy opposite as his struggling son Booster." Full Review

New York Theater

"A superbly acted and directed production...Each character has a story to tell, and a full life of faults and wisdom and talents that Wilson presents with humor and empathy...Director Ruben Santiago-Hudson makes the play as lively and funny as it should be...The plot of 'Jitney' does not conclude as artfully as those in Wilson’s later work...But Wilson’s strengths as a portraitist, and his ear for dialogue, are evident from the get-go...'Jitney' feels not just rewarding, but necessary." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

In Ruben Santiago-Hudson's hands, 'JItney' has the glittering patina of a masterpiece...Santiago-Hudson may be the most attuned to the sheer music of the playwright's language. Working with an A team of character actors, he mines the script for every bit of lyric beauty and dramatic tension...Thanks to the fine work of this company, 'Jitney' takes its rightful place as one of the most vivid panels in Wilson's mural of 20th-century black America." Full Review

Front Row Center

"’Jitney’ has moments that are transcendent…Where I was riveted were the two major confrontations–one between Becker and Booster and the other between Youngblood and Rena. Not only were the performances spot-on, but Wilson digs deep…As to the overall piece, it felt a bit disjointed on the one hand and predictable on the other. There were no real surprises for me, although I have to admit that I was in the minority because this audience was vocal in their response.” Full Review

The Huffington Post

"None of Wilson’s plays are perfect and 'Jitney' is no exception. Wilson didn’t strive for a perfect, jewel-like clarity. He was about sprawl and humanity...This is a strong ensemble in the capable hands of director Ruben Santiago-Hudson...The Act One finale where Becker and his son Booster confront each other is one of the most magnetic and compelling scenes I’ve witnessed in a long time." Full Review

Theatre's Leiter Side

“The plotline has the familiar scent of socially oriented melodrama: the city plans to board up the place and build something else, thus depriving the struggling drivers of their livelihoods. The righteous boss, Becker (John Douglas Thompson), has a plan to fight back, thus giving the play a structural framework, but the real interest is in the intensely vivid characters, their electric, richly accented language, replete with aria-like speeches, and their emotionally fraught relationships.” Full Review

The Hollywood Reporter

"Actor-turned-director Ruben Santiago-Hudson's natural feel for the plays of August Wilson yields a superb production...It takes considerable skill to conduct the musical movements of Wilson's dialogue with the fluidity achieved here...There's not an actor on the stage who doesn't thoroughly inhabit his or her flavorful character, from their singular speech patterns to their own particular walk or physicality. All of them deserve the highest praise...The result here feels just as revelatory." Full Review

AM New York

"A focused and penetrating production directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson and featuring an outstanding ensemble cast...Thompson’s physically ailing and earnest Becker contrasts nicely with Dirden’s well-groomed and unapologetic Booster. Great performances are also provided by Michael Potts as the combative Turnbo, Anthony Chisholm as the inebriated Fielding and Keith Randolph Smith as the comparatively tranquil Doub." Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

"The story and the relationships do not rivet because of their facts...There's a faint but detectable maudlin streak that becomes more manipulative than Wilson dared get in his later works...Little of this matters because the men won't let even a flimsy structure crumble. Together they form a magnetic bond you can feel emanating from the stage, and, under the capable direction of Ruben Santiago-Hudson, have the properly melodic way with Wilson's epically musical downscale dialogue." Full Review

New York Daily News

"August Wilson’s 'Jitney' delivers a gripping ride...These conversations pack poetry and punch — along with humor and truth — so we get to know the characters and feel for them...Ruben Santiago-Hudson directs the atmospheric production and fine-tuned ensemble...'Jitney' is the last of Wilson's 10-play series about black life in America to reach Broadway. It still gives a lift in the age of Uber." Full Review


"A superb production under the direction of Ruben Santiago-Hudson, a strong Wilson hand...It’s the work of a young playwright not yet fully in command of his prodigious gifts, yet already confident in voice and in the creation of characters who are as specific to their place and time as they are universal in their flaws, hopes and dreams." Full Review


"'Jitney' may lack the more fully developed structural sophistication of later plays...Fortunately, director Ruben Santiago-Hudson and his A+ ensemble have found a way to make us see past the flaws that tend to creep into even a master craftsman's early works...Thanks to Mr. Santiago-Hudson's well-paced, sensitive direction and the top to bottom excellence of this ensemble, 'Jitney' works as a moving and entertaining collage." Full Review

Front Mezz Junkies

“It’s a stellar production showcasing the intricate and poetic artistry of Wilson’s writing. It equally rings true and authentic to the time and place...The ensemble works together like a well-tuned old car. All are given their moments to shine and resonate…Directed excellently by Ruben Santiago-Hudson, it plays with our soul like a world-class band of jazz musicians, giving all different kinds of melodies and shades of emotions, pulling it all together in the end in one miraculous performance." Full Review

The Huffington Post

"A must-see...Under Ruben Santiago-Hudson’s superb direction, the straight line between Becker (the formidable John Douglas Thompson) and Booster (Brandon J. Dirden), the son he has not seen for 20 years is the tough love around which the drivers swirl in syncopated speech...By play’s end, with the wrecking ball of gentrification looming large over this fine-tuned ensemble, you are no more ready to leave the station than 'Jitney’s' drivers are." Full Review


"MTC, which has co-produced the original New York productions of Wilson's 'King Hedley II,' 'Seven Guitars' and 'The Piano Lesson,' has done itself proud with its Broadway premiere of 'Jitney.' Santiago-Hudson's ensemble cast breathes new life into this play that shows how men live and work, along with their dreams, their hopes and disappointments. With another bravura performance by John Douglas Thompson, as well as fine work from the ensemble, this is a play that must be seen." Full Review


"It’s especially wonderful that we have director Ruben Santiago-Hudson’s authoritative 'Jitney' production of this less-known part of a masterwork...This is a meticulously cast, lovingly observed play...Many of the actors are veterans of Wilson’s storytelling style, experts in the unspooling ways he defines character and plot through grand handfuls of luscious and gritty street poetry...The delights and tragedies in this rich, chatty, eerily mature work remain exquisitely intimate." Full Review

Bob's Theater Blog

"This superb production at Manhattan Theatre Club was worth the wait...The reunion scene between father and son that ends the first act is both riveting and lacerating...Ensemble acting doesn’t get much better than this...Ruben Santiago-Hudson once again demonstrates his aptitude for Wilson’s work. The play is weakened a bit by its pat ending, but not enough to erase its many strengths...This is a powerful revival of a play well worth seeing." Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
Avg Score

Great acting, Intense, Thought-provoking

See it if want to see a very intriguing play. It holds your attention the entire time and is very educational. A fantastic work of August Wilson.

Don't see it if you are trying to see a show with young children.

Great acting, Intelligent, Relevant, Great writing, Entertaining

See it if you like being immersed in an "everyman" culture that provides insights into human motivations and realistic characterizations.

Don't see it if if you find it challenging or are not interested in interpreting human psychological interactions.

Exquisite, Great acting, Masterful, Must see, Great writing

See it if you want to experience one of the best acted plays by one of the best writers to ever share their work with the world. God Bless A. Wilson!

Don't see it if You are offended by language or adult themes/situations. Other than that, EVERYONE should go!

Absorbing, Great acting, Resonant

See it if african american dramas

Don't see it if the above

Absorbing, Great acting, Masterful, Must see, Great writing

See it if No "if". See this. Absolutely remarkable. This was my first August Wilson play and I am changed. The acting and writing are incredible.

Don't see it if For the first time, I'm stumped with this section. Please watch any production of this you come across.

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Masterful

See it if You love smart well acted August Wilson plays.

Don't see it if You aren't into dramatic shows

Day in the life at a small urban cab company

See it if If you're a fan of August Wilson's formula which is essentially a day in the life of the everyman. This iteration is focused on cab drivers.

Don't see it if It's a lot of sitting through dialogue around the everyday and mundane to get to a few interesting plot elements..pacing issues.

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing

See it if You want to see an intense human drama with cultural/historical reference to social issues.

Don't see it if You don't like drama

Great acting, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Masterful, Relevant

See it if you want to see an incredible playwrights work being done by talented actors

Don't see it if you are looking for something light and fun

Also This was incredibly well done play that I feel fortunate to have been ... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Exquisite, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Masterful

See it if you want to see a smart, powerful and astoundingly well-acted masterpiece.

Don't see it if you don't have a time machine because unfortunately this run is closed now.

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing

See it if Must see. One of August Willson's best.

Don't see it if You dislike ethnic stories.

Funny, Absorbing, Great acting, Relevant

See it if you want a master class in acting. This is one of the finest ensembles in ages. The set/production design is also amazing.

Don't see it if you don't like August Wilson, although even then, this is one of his best.

Great acting, Thought-provoking, Great writing, Powerful production

See it if you appreciate a perfectly cast production of a relevant play by an important writer. MTC at it's best.

Don't see it if you are looking for light, fluffy entertainment (although there are definitely laugh-filled moments)...otherwise see it.

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Riveting, Great staging

See it if you are looking for great ensemble acting. the cast is uniformly great

Don't see it if you are looking for a light comedy

Absorbing, Great acting, Must see, Great writing, Entertaining

See it if you like the equivalent of great jazz, oratorio, sung through opera. What an ear Wilson had in this soulful early work. Poetic Portraiture

Don't see it if you expect traditional narrative arc and a major protagonist. This a an ensemble piece in which each character adds to the total composite.

Also Go see it! There are flaws in this early work particularly a facile en... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Masterful

See it if You like well balanced ensemble acting. Everyone in the large cast is excellent. Great look into 1970s life in black America.

Don't see it if You don't like talky shows. There's lots of dialogue.

Funny, Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Entertaining

See it if You want a boss cast with a ton of experience doing August Wilson. It was so cohesive, it was a joy to watch. Entertaining and provocative.

Don't see it if You're not a fan of serious, realism driven plays. You don't enjoy period pieces.

Ambitious, Great acting, Profound, Refreshing, Entertaining

See it if You get a chance (it closes Sunday). But it's a note-perfect ensemble in a fantastic piece by America's best playwright (my opinion).

Don't see it if You can't get in. That's the only reason to miss it. And if that happens, cross your fingers it can transfer for a longer run elsewhere.

Great acting, Great writing, Entertaining

See it if you're a fan of August Wilson's writing

Don't see it if you don't enjoy stories about real life in Pittsburgh

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Great writing, Entertaining

See it if you like ensemble productions with important messages

Don't see it if If you don't like August Wilson

Absorbing, Great acting, Profound, Refreshing, Resonant

See it if you appreciate well-crafted acting, fully formed characters, fantastic set design and a riveting "day in the life" story.

Don't see it if you won't be able to connect to a deeply character-driven play or its 1970s setting.

Absorbing, Great acting, Masterful, Great writing, Great staging

See it if Very beautifully and lovingly written, acted, directed and staged. Excellent sets and lighting. A very satisfying evening of theater.

Don't see it if you prefer action, this is a slice of life story, it's all about the characters. If you prefer musicals, just know this productions sings.

Absorbing, Exquisite, Great acting, Intelligent, Masterful

See it if You love great acting and great writing.

Don't see it if You don't like long, straight plays.

Absorbing, Great acting, Refreshing, Resonant, Great writing

See it if you like Great acting! Lovely set! Good journey! Relationships between a group of men.

Don't see it if stories of estranged father/son relationships bother you.

Funny, Great acting, Relevant, Resonant, Great writing

See it if You're a Wilson fan or want to give his plays a try. It's one of his most accessible -- both funny and touching. This is a great production.

Don't see it if You're interested in a play with a more female-centric voice. This Wilson play is sorely lacking women.