Toni Stone
Closed 2h 10m
Toni Stone
80

Toni Stone NYC Reviews and Tickets

80%
(247 Reviews)
Positive
86%
Mixed
12%
Negative
2%
Members say
Great acting, Entertaining, Absorbing, Relevant, Thought-provoking

About the Show

In this world premiere from Roundabout, Obie Award winner April Matthis stars as baseball player Toni Stone, the first woman to go pro in the Negro Leagues. Directed by Tony winner Pam MacKinnon.

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Member Reviews (247)

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76
Intelligent, Relevant, Slow, Entertaining, Absorbing

See it if You’d like to see a show that is interesting and told in an unusual way although it needs some serious editing to make it a stronger story.

Don't see it if You can’t sit through a lot of sidetrack storylines that don’t get flushed out while on your way to the main story. Read more

70
Disappointing, Intelligent, Good acting, Slow, Enlightening

See it if u want to see Matthis in a solid at-bat as the 1st female Negro Leaguer in an illuminating (if dry) lesson in racism, sexism & baseball.

Don't see it if ur hoping for a compelling, electric theatrical event worthy of the intriguing subject; u prefer action to exposition. Read more

Critic Reviews (24)

The New York Times
June 20th, 2019

"'Toni Stone' is at its considerable best whenever, like its main character, it’s at its most unconventional. The spiky rhythm of Pam MacKinnon’s direction; the unvarnished quirkiness of the eight-man ensemble supporting Ms. Matthis; the astonishing, dancelike movement (by Camille A. Brown) that expresses the game without mimicking it — all contribute to the feeling that we’re learning something new, but also in new ways...Ms. Matthis’s characterization holds everything together."
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The Hollywood Reporter
June 20th, 2019

"Unfortunately, this play seems more intent on theatrical frippery than telling a compelling story...The writing's presentational style becomes too cutesy by far...The story theater-style approach doesn't serve the esoteric material well, and anyone not already familiar with the subject matter is likely to feel lost at times...The performers' frequent miming of ballplaying moves, which at times morph into full-blown dance, eventually proves more tiresome than invigorating."
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The Wall Street Journal
July 3rd, 2019

‘Toni Stone’ Review: A Pioneer of America’s Pastime Lydia R. Diamond affirms her status as an exciting, serious writer with this play about the first black woman to play pro baseball.
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Theatermania
June 20th, 2019

"Compelling, solidly performed, must-see play...April Matthis gives a stunning, highly polished performance as the literal-minded Toni...Director Pam MacKinnon captures the social tensions of the era and shows how racism permeated Toni's life off and on the field...More than just providing illuminating theater and timely social commentary, 'Toni Stone' gives long overdue credit to a woman who had to fight as hard as or harder than any man in her sport just to play the game she loved."
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BroadwayWorld
June 28th, 2019

"Toni Stone's story is a unique and telling one in American culture. The strength of Diamond's play comes in the parallels she draws between the bouts with racism that bond the woman with her teammates and the sexist attitudes that separate them. But a clearer narrative is needed before Toni Stone proves worthy of its inspiring subject."
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Lighting & Sound America
July 9th, 2019

"If nothing else, 'Toni Stone' unearths a fascinating, underreported aspect of baseball history while simultaneously delivering one of the more memorable heroines of recent months….it unearths a story one instantly wants to know more about; the most difficult thing about it is that it leaves one wanting rather more than it offers."
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Talkin' Broadway
June 20th, 2019

"There's also lots of small talk, very small, and in the process, we don't really get to know Toni, or anybody, very well. She's strident and confident and defiant, and Matthis plays her with not much variety...'Toni Stone' should be about empowerment and fighting the odds and being one's own person at all costs, and what baseball fan wouldn't like to know more about the Negro Leagues? That's all up there, but it's so muted. Diamond's rambling dramaturgy keeps bobbling the ball."
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New York Stage Review
June 20th, 2019

"Matthis, who has a wonderfully elastic face and moves with an athlete’s sense of casual, contained power, manages to combine a wry quality with utter guilelessness; her Toni has no real agenda other than to play ball...It’s ripe subject matter, but over two acts that run two hours and change (not including an intermission), Diamond and MacKinnon sometimes fall back on clichés and, yes, rambling, diminishing its weight."
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New York Stage Review
June 20th, 2019

"Pace-wise, 'Toni Stone' is actually pretty similar to a baseball game, so kudos to director Pam MacKinnon for achieving that kind of (semi-frustrating) authenticity. But it’s Matthis who’s the play’s MVP. She’s a giddy delight...One suspects Diamond’s play only scratches the surface of Toni Stone’s story; thanks to Matthis’ performance and this slick production—we can’t forget the superb choreography—you’re bound to leave wanting to know more about the woman ESPN forgot."
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Theater News Online
June 20th, 2019

"This extraordinary performer, whom I’ve admired for years in downtown work, adds her inimitable spark and mystery to an elusive historical figure, and the result is absolute magic...Her team members are brought to life with nuance and wit by the outstanding ensemble...If Diamond’s play stumbles a bit, it’s in the second half, as she tries to maintain tension in the drama of Toni’s life, which isn’t exactly brimming with dramatic incident."
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TheaterScene.net
June 30th, 2019

"As a play, Lydia R. Diamond's Toni Stone is both rambling and difficult to follow, unlike her 'Stick Fly' (Broadway's Cort Theatre in 2011) or Smart People (The Second Stage, 2016). However, as a one-woman show about the remarkable 'Toni Stone,' this play gives April Matthis an unforgettable role which she develops into a brilliant character portrait of a truly remarkable woman."
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Theater Pizzazz
June 20th, 2019

"The play unfolds in vignettes, the actors also taking on multi roles and personas from Toni’s childhood and past. They move as synchronized dancers as they make baseball plays in slow motion and expressive leaps under Tony nominee Camille A. Brown’s choreography...The result is a mesmerizing historical account of the great American pastime."
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CurtainUp
June 20th, 2019

"If the writing was a bit sharper and contained more melodramatic juice, the viewer's attention wouldn't wane as it does toward the play's quiet resolve. As for the cast...in spite of having to sort out the characters that Stone interacts with along the way, all the supporting actors are excellent and their characters impressively individualized. Most individualized of all is Stone who, through Matthis' spot-on-performance, hits the winning run, even when all the bases aren't loaded."
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Exeunt Magazine
June 21st, 2019

"Diamond wants our theatrical experience of Toni to feel as it might have been to know her with a mind that races all over the place and could not quite articulate her feelings. With beautiful moments of poetic writing and a strong central performance this looseness didn't always bother me, but...clarity is sacrificed for sensation."
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C
June 20th, 2019

"Portrayed with an unusual mixture of self-assurance (about her skills) and self-doubt (about her worldliness) by the truly remarkable April Matthis, Stone faces - and mostly wins -a series of individual battles every day, from dealing with parents who are reluctant to let their daughter play the game to owners who want to pay her less and treat her differently to jealous teammates determined to belittle, or even destroy, her simply because she's a better player than they are."
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Theatre's Leiter Side
June 21st, 2019

"Diamond's fascinating new eponymous play about a largely forgotten pioneer could well be described by the pitching term or 'quality start'… The…play…is overlong, like a game that goes into extra innings but, for most of its duration,…McKinnon's imaginative staging, supplemented by the incisive choreography of…Brown, keeps the ball spinning and the actors moving… Matthis's performance delivers on every count, being both personable, formidable, and funny."
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DC Theatre Scene
June 20th, 2019

"There are funny scenes and pointed scenes — scenes that touch on the racism and sexism of the era. Yet, 'Toni Stone' only occasionally sparks the kind of theatrical electricity that makes a play — not just the historical figure at its center — come to life...The storytelling technique of mixing narration with enactment is a practical solution, but one that can keep us at a distance. Too many of the scenes feel almost dutiful, as if the playwright was trying to prove she had done her homework."
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Gotham Playgoer
June 20th, 2019

"Its biggest flaw is that there is far more telling than showing. There are many long monologues, particularly in the first act, that slow the momentum. Fortunately, after intermission the pace picks up and the anecdotes, while sometimes only loosely connected, are more interesting...As social history, I found the play informative; as theater, it was less than compelling. If you are a baseball fan or a history buff, you are more likely to enjoy it."
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New York Theatre Guide
June 21st, 2019

“Lydia R. Diamond has created a mesmerizing narrative overlaid onto the rhythm that is baseball...Her writing, combined with the supple choreography of Camille A. Brown, the guidance of Pam MacKinnon, and a cast delivered from heaven creates a quiet play that soars like an opera...This is a trifecta of great theatre - a good script, direction that pays attention to detail, and a fine cast...An evening of hope and inspiration combined with just the right amount of remonstrance."
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The Wrap
June 20th, 2019

"Lydia R. Diamond has written a play that’s very sly, even magnificently off-center, in its presentation of the title character...MacKinnon avoids the trap of so many sports plays, attempting to re-create the suspense of a real game on stage. Camille A. Brown, who provided the wonderful (and Tony-nominated) choreography for another play, 'Choir Boy,' is equally kinetic in her work here. Together, she and MacKinnon give a semblance of the game."
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T
June 20th, 2019

"The beguiling magic of 'Toni Stone' the play, directed by MacKinnon (and based on Ackmann’s 2010 biography), is many-fold, but it is heralded by a charming and emphatic performance by April Matthis in the title role of Stone herself, and Diamond’s script, which has both a lightness of touch and resonant depth...Stone emerges as such a fascinating figure, thanks to Diamond’s words and Matthis’ gold-star performance, that you only want to know more about her after the play ends."
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C
June 25th, 2019

“Roundabout’s humorous, intriguing and illuminating production about baseball, race, gender, inspiration and ambition...Matthis as Stone is incredible...With superb, athleticism by the actors, the movements are precision, characteristically baseball...Perhaps the most searing effect of this production is in how the playwright weaves in the details of the history of our nation’s racism during the accounts of her life on the field and in pro baseball.”
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TheaterScene.com
June 25th, 2019

"Entertaining as well as importantly informative...Mathis’s Toni is totally beguiling....The teams of the Negro League were expected to provide a sort of vaudeville entertainment for their ticket buyers, and that’s well suggested in the lively staging of director Pam MacKinnon, along with a couple of energetic interludes choreographed by Camille A. Brown. But just as compelling are MacKinnon’s handling of intimate dugout conversations and the relationships entwining Toni."
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scribicide
June 27th, 2019

"April Matthis owns the stage...Unfortunately, Diamond's play does not make full use of its fascinating source material. Outside of Toni's narration, the scenes are routine and predictable, often concluding with overwritten, summative monologues."
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