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Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom at NCA&TSU

Staff Reports / April 22, 2022

North Carolina A&T State University and Paul Robeson Theatre present Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom by August Wilson featuring Broadway actor and theatre alumna Jayne Trinette as Ma Rainey.

Inspired by the real-life Mother of the Blues, Gertrude “Ma” Rainey, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom by Pulitzer Prize-Winning playwright, August Wilson takes place in Chicago in 1927 over a single day of making music, making jokes, and making deals. A young, ambitious horn player named Levee arrives with new band arrangements including one for a popular dance called The Black Bottom. But Ma insists on singing it the “familiar” way. The other band members—Cutler, Toledo, and Slow Drag—follow suit, warning Levee about butting heads with Ma. The defiant Mother of the Blues knows that she is the star of the show, and she won’t be pushed around. After all, it’s what Ma says that counts. As the day unfolds and Ma’s demands are met Levee cracks. He succumbs to the harsh realities of unjustly thwarted aspirations, revealing self-destructive consequences.

Directed by Miller Lucky Jr., Ma Rainey is a searing account of what racism does to its victims. It is funny, salty, raw, and lyrical highlighting all the complicated emotions of the blues music it celebrates.

Jayne Trinette an alumna of A&T’s theatre program and Broadway actor stars as Ma Rainey. Trinette is a powerful singer/actress with a three-octave range and has an impressive career as a performer, educator, and consultant. Her credits include Broadway Tour of Disney’s The Lion King, Caroline Or Change, Ain’t Misbehavin’, Smokey Joe’s Café, and The Buddy Holly Story. Jayne has written, directed, and produced a series of cabarets with tributes to Lena Horne and Aretha Franklin. She has also been seen on Live with Kelly and Michael singing with the cast of Walt Disney World’s Festival of the Lion King.

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is also one of the productions featured in the Amplify Black Voices Festival of Greater Greensboro. Building on Greensboro’s rich legacy of social justice and engagement in the Civil Rights Movement, Amplify Black Voices Festival of Greater Greensboro unites seven local college theater departments to collaboratively produce four theater performances focusing on African American lives and history. Staged at four different college theater venues in Spring 2022, the cast, and crews for each will be blended from the seven departments. After each performance, the actors and director will return to the stage to reflect on the significance of Black lives and stories and racial inequity. The target audience includes university/college communities, the greater Greensboro community, and Guilford County Public Schools.

The Theatre Arts Program and Paul Robeson Theatre adhere to all COVID-19 protocols and procedures. Seating will be limited to practice social distancing. Everyone is encouraged to follow safe hygiene practices to help prevent the spread of the virus.


Paul Robeson Theatre on the campus of North Carolina A&T State University

Performance Dates and Times:

Thursday, April 28 @ 7:30 p.m.
Friday, April 29 @ 7:30 p.m.


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