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The Royale

The Royale is playing at the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theatre.  It is located in Lincoln Center at 150 West 65th Street.  The show runs one hour fifteen minutes with no intermission.  The play closes on May 1, 2016.

It premiered at the Old Globe in San Diego, California on October 4, 2014.

Montego Glover and John Lavelle were in the original cast.

Rachael Chavkin is the director.  She is a two time Obie Award winner and a Drama Desk Award and Lucille Lortell Award nominee.

Montego Glover made her Broadway debut as an understudy for Celie and Nettle in The Color Purple.  She was nominated for a Tony Award and won a Drama Desk Award in 2010 for Memphis.

Jay Jackson was born on March 3. 1878 and died on June 10, 1946.  Nicknamed Galveston Giant was the first African American world heavy weight champion (1908-1915).    He was charged with the Mann Act in 1912 when he cross the state with a white women “on transporting a women across a state line for immoral purpose”.  Cameron became his second wife.

He was an early example of the celebrity athletic.

In all he had 104 fights, 73 wins; 40 wins by KO, 13 loses, 10 draws and 5 no contests.

The play takes in various cities in the United States at the start of the twentieth century.

Max (John LaSalle) is the promoter and announcer at the fights.

There are two fighters in the ring; Max (John Lavelle) and Jay (Khris Davis).  Jay is experienced and Max is not.  Each is trying to stay focus on the bout.   Max loses but put up a good fight.  He is asked by Jay’s trainer Wynton (Clarke Peters) if he would like to be Jay’s sparring partner, he agrees.  It’s more money he makes at the naval yard.

Max questions Wynton about where Jay is from.  Jay says one thing but Max said he went thru some papers that say he is from someplace else.  Wynton is evasive about it.

Jay keeps pushing Max  for him to fight James Jefferies, a white former Heavyweight Chaampion.  When James agrees he wants 90% of the wins whether he wins or loses. 

Everyone tells him not to do it but he is determined to fight him.

His sister Nina (Montego Glover) comes to discourage him.  She says there will be consequences to his family and the black community if he wins.

Jay wins the fight

What goes on thru Jay and Max mind when they fight and other things I left out you will have to see this remarkable play.  I don’t want to spoil anything.

The set is bare except for what would be one side of the boxing ring, which is moved around. At times its pick and dropped to indicate a punch that hit its target.  Sometimes there is a chair on stage.

The Royale is a touching story of a man trying to overcome racial injustice. 

Khris Davis and McKinley Belcher III do a pivotal job in their roles.

Review by Rozanna Radakovich

Photos by Annazor.

To read a candid interview with the cast, scroll down to the left for recent photos for recent photos.  Click on recent photos for this and other shows.

 

 

 

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