Thomascena Nelson stars in the title role of August Wilson's Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, directed by Deidra LaWan Starnes, at 1st Stage Theatre.
Thomascena Nelson stars in August Wilson's Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, directed by Deidra LaWan Starnes, at 1st Stage.
(photo provided by 1st Stage Theatre)

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom begins performances tonight at 1st Stage.

August Wilson's drama is inspired by the real life of legendary blues singer Gertrude "Ma" Rainey and is a powerful installment in his Century Cycle — 10 illustrious plays that explore the African-American experience in each decade of the 20th century.

The production features Thomascena Nelson as Ma Rainey, Michael Anthony Williams as Toledo, William T. Newman Jr. as Cutler, William Aitken as Sturdyvant, Tracey Farrar as Dussie Mae, Jason B. McIntosh as Slow Drag, Tendo Nsubuga as Sylvester, Joe Palka as Irvin, Clayton Pelham Jr. as Levee, and Joshua Witt as the Policeman. Deidra LaWan Starnes directs the production.

The design team includes scenic design by Kathryn Kawecki, costume design by Debra Kim Sivigny, lighting design by John D. Alexander, sound design by Reid May, and properties design by Kay Rzasa and Deb Crerie.

Performances continue through June 25.

For tickets and more information, click here.