By Marianne Donnelly
THE ROYALE is now playing at The Playhouse by The LAB LV. Performances run through November 24, with showtimes at 7:30 pm.
Molodi-style "body percussion" choreographed by Jason Nious (teaching artist Cirque Du Soleil's Arts Nomades) uses syncopated, synchronized foot-stomps, hand-claps, finger snaps and calls to punctuate this fiercely wonderful, culturally relevant, interdisciplinary theatrical production written by Juilliard-trained Marco Ramirez.
As the London Telegraph said, "The Royale is a febrile soundtrack to a well-constructed drama that captures both the beautiful frenzy of boxing and the sadly still relevant volatile state of race relations in America.”
Photo credit: Richard Brusky
Ramirez was inspired by the life story of John (Jack) Arthur Johnson, an American boxer at the height of the ugly racial segregation laws known as "Jim Crow," who became the first African American world heavyweight boxing champion 1908–1915 winning nearly every fight of his career.
The play and film, "The Great White Hope”, took a different look at this man who lived his dreams and passions against all odds and restrictions.
In this play we have boxer Jay Jackson, played to statuesque perfection by Mario Peoples (Cirque Du Soleil's Zumanity), who dreams of a big-time bout with Bernard Bixby, no matter how small the monetary award would be, to become the heavyweight champion.
His big sister Nina, played with pouncing-cat-intensity by Sabrina Cofield (Emmy-awarded journalist), asks questions leading to the central theme of the show.
Wynton, a compassionate and wise boxing trainer, played with dignity by Mervin Alexander (Lincoln Center and BAM), balances the risks and rewards of Jay.
Max, the daring white fight promoter and referee, played with polish by Nate Marble (UNLV teacher), voices the risks and reality of their current culture and challenges.
Fish, a young boxer defeated by Jay, becomes Jay's sparring partner and is played with necessary humor and charm by Jamey Clay-Brown (Smith Center Broadway in the Hood).
The Royale, at Poor Richard's Players The Playhouse, is six rounds of riveting storytelling and emotional left-hooks.
The play gracefully touches on racism in America through the adept hands of director Kate St. Pierre (Lincoln Center Directors' Lab and UNLV teacher) and all the elements culminate in a powerful production.
Scenic design by Timothy Burris; Lighting design by Dave Clark; Costume design by Dustin Shaffer with Skylar Meek, Jill Ramos, Ricky Ronquillo; Stage Manager Ashley Mae Morris; LABLV Board and Volunteers.
The LABLV provides incomparable experiences for audiences by presenting strong, provocative work in unconventional settings, encouraging community dialogue and growth.
This production was partially funded by the Nevada Arts Council and National Endowment for the Arts.
God of Carnage by Yasmina Riza, Dance Nation by Clare Barron and
The Bacchae by Euripides.
528 S. Decatur
(Alta cross street) behind Pep Boys near Arizona Charlies.
Plenty quick-dine options nearby!
Marianne is a living-history Chautauquan who portrays Janis Joplin, Louisa May Alcott and more.