Satchel Paige and the Kansas City Swing
Patricia Neal Stage

Satchel Paige and the Kansas City Swing

August 14 - September 6, 2014
It's 1947. Jackie Robinson has just integrated American baseball. In his shadow, Satchel Paige and his All Stars gear up to play Bob Feller's All Stars from the majors in a thrilling off-season match-up. Jazz fills the night, baseball the day. And America is about to experience something it's never faced before.


Director: Directed by Ricardo Khan
Writer: Written by Trey Ellis & Ricardo Khan

Satchel Paige and the Kansas City Swing

Trey Ellis (Playwright)

Mr. Ellis is a novelist, screenwriter, playwright, essayist and an associate professor in the Graduate School of the Arts at Columbia University. Mr. Ellis also co-created Fly with Ricardo Khan which ran here at the Playhouse in 2009 and 2010. Fly was commissioned by the Lincoln Center Institute and continues to be performed around the country, including Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C. He wishes to thank the University of Missouri at Kansas City for commissioning Satchel Paige and the Kansas City Swing and especially The Vineyard Playhouse for their very early support in staging a reading. He has recently completed a new play, Affirmative, as part of a grant from the Fletcher Foundation. His work for the screen includes the Peabody-winning and Emmy-nominated HBO film The Tuskegee Airmen, Good Fences for Showtime, which was shortlisted for the PEN award for Best Teleplay of the year, and The Inkwell for Touchstone Pictures. He is currently writing a screenplay for HBO Films on Amos ‘n’ Andy with Harvard professor and longtime Vineyarder Henry Louis Gates, Jr. producing.
Ricardo Khan (Director)
Ricardo Khan is a director, writer, educator and Tony Award-winning Artistic Director. In 1978 he co-founded the Crossroads Theatre Company, one of history’s few African American theatre organizations to ever rise to both national and international prominence as a major professional regional arts institution, having launched countless careers for writers, directors and actors of color, and over one hundred premieres of new and innovative plays for the American theatre, for Broadway and for television. On June 5, 1999, his company became the first black theatre in history to receive the Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre in America.
During his 21 years at Crossroads, from 1978-1999, Khan nurtured countless new works that have forever enriched the cannon of the American theatre, having worked with Ntozake Shange, former United States Poet Laureate Rita Dove, George C. Wolfe, August Wilson, Anna Deveare Smith, Melba Moore, Odetta, Leslie Lee, Kathleen McGhee-Anderson, and Ossie Davis and Ru-by Dee, among the many. On Broadway Mr. Khan was the originating producer of the 1988 Crossroads production of Paul Robeson starring Avery Brooks, and in 1999 he was on the producing team of the Tony Award-nominated musical, It Ain’t Nothin’ But the Blues. He returned to Broadway in 2005 shortly after the passing of esteemed playwright August Wilson, to write, stage, and with co-producer Woodie King, Jr., present the Broadway tribute to August Wilson in the theatre that now bares Mr. Wilson’s name. In 2006 he served as Associate Director of the Broadway show, Hot Feet!, a musical developed by Maurice Hines with legendary songwriter Maurice White and featuring the music of Earth, Wind and Fire. Mr. Khan’s other directing cred-its in New York include the Negro Ensemble Company, Manhattan Theatre Club, the Signature Theatre, the Village Gate, the world famous Apollo Theatre in Harlem and Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York (LCE) where he is currently an artist-in-residence. Regional theatre credits include the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the Ford’s Theatre, both in Washington, DC., the Hartford Stage, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park and the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis.
A writer as well as director, his critically acclaimed play, FLY!, written with Trey Ellis and about the Tuskegee Airmen of World War II, has received raves wherever it has played, including the Crossroads Theatre Company, Lincoln Center Institute in New York, theatres in Atlanta and Martha’s Vineyard, the Fords Theatre in Washington and most recently in Cincinnati and St. Louis. His next play, Kansas City Swing, also written with Trey Ellis, is about Negro Leagues baseball and American jazz, with Kansas City as its backdrop in 1947, the year Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in major leagues baseball. Kansas City Swing was developed and first debuted at the University of Missouri where he is a visiting professor in graduate school for theatre. It received its professional premiere at Crossroads in New Brunswick and will next be performed at the Vineyard Playhouse on the island of Martha’s Vineyard where every summer he works as an Artistic Associate.
Mr. Khan holds a BA in Psychology from Rutgers College, a double MFA in both acting and directing from Mason Gross School of the Arts and an Honorary Doctorate from Rutgers University where he is also in the University’s Hall of Distinguished Alumni.
Suzzanne Douglas (Mrs. Hopkins)
Suzzanne Douglas is delighted to be playing Ms. Hopkins in the new England premiere of SATCHEL PAIGE AND THE KANSAS CITY SWING at The Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse. Look for Ms. Douglas’ portrayal of Cissy Houston in the soon to be released bio pic The Whitney Houston Story: I Will Always Love You for Lifetime. With her singing career taking flight, be sure to check her social media for event locations. A patron of the arts and an advocate for teaching artistic expression in the educational system, as an artist/activist, Suzzanne’s body of work displays her commitment to roles that fuse social action with art by challenging societal norms and heightening the audience’s consciousness about community and world issues. Although widely known as an actress, singer and producer, her everyday life is committed to using her gifts to empower the community. A Chicago native, Suzzanne graduated from Illinois State University and is currently a student in the Master’s Program in Jazz Vocals at the prestigious Manhattan School of Music. In the community she is a lifetime member of Girl Scouts of America, The National Council of Negro Women, Sigma Alpha Lambda (a national leadership and honors organization), Jack and Jill. She is also an honorary member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. An award-winning actress of screen and stage, her personal commitment to exploring characters seldom played by women of color has allowed her to create a canon of enigmatic and complex roles. Althoug she is widely known for her starring role in the long-running Warner Brothers television show The Parent’Hood and her roles in blockbuster films such as How Stella Got Her Groove Back, Jason’s Lyric, The Inkwell, and School of Rock, she has an extensive career in theatre from Broadway and beyond. On Broadway, Suzzanne has starred in THE TAP DANCE KID, IT’S A GRAND NIGHT FOR SINGING and THE THREEPENNY OPERA opposite legendary musician Sting. Other theatre credits include Shakespeare’s HENRY V, Kara Lee Corthon’s post-modern play, JULIUS BY DESIGN, Regina Taylor’s THE DROWNING CROW (Chicago’s Goodman Theater), NIGHT IN TUNISIA (George Street Playhouse), CROWNS (Pasadena Playhouse) and Arthur Laurent’s HALLELUJAH, BABY!, which Laurent re-wrote especially for her. She was also the first African-American to play the role of Dr. Bearing in the Pulitzer Prize winning play, WIT at the George Street Playhouse. On television, Suzzanne had a recurring role in Mo’Nique’s comedy, The Parkers. She has also starred in a variety of critically acclaimed shows such as:The Good Wife, NYPD Blue, Law and Order, Touched by an Angel, I’ll Fly Away and In the Shadow of Love. For her touching performance in the ABC-made-for-television remake of the classic film Sounder, she was nominated for an NAACP Image Award. As a singer, she is known for performances that blend spoken word with jazz styling and the results are sizzling! Suzzanne’s musical talents have enabled her to perform with Stanley Turrentine, Gene Harris, Jon Faddis, Kenney Burrell, Nate Adderley, Don Braden, and T.S. Monk. As a producer, she has won several awards for her films, The Last Weekend and Theresa Rebeck’s Love on the Rocks starring Julie White. Suzzanne has been recognized for her outstanding work on stage and screen. For her performance in the film Tap alongside legends Sammy Davis, Jr. and Gregory Hines she wond an NAACP Image Award. Her performance in How Stella Got Her Groove Back was applauded with a Black Oscar and she was awarded A Reel Award for her performance in Sounder. She can also be seen in the film Changing the Game, which was selected for the prestigious Cannes Film Festival. She is also the recipient of the Mary Martin Prize for musical theater which is sponsored by the National Institute for Music Theater.
Samuel Ray Gates (Buck O'Neil)
Samuel Ray Gates is making his Martha's Vineyard Playhouse debut. He has appeared off-Broadway in The Muscles In Our Toes (The Labyrinth); Aunt Dan and Lemon (The New Group); Three Seconds in the Key (New Georges);Electra (the Classical Theatre of Harlem); Nelson(Partial Comfort Productions); A Wives’ Tale(Summer Play Festival). Regional credits includeClybourne Park (Cincinatti Playhouse in the Park);The Trinity River Plays (Goodman/Dallas Theater Center);The Brother/Sister Plays (McCarter Theatre Center); McReele (Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater); Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Fences(Swine Palace); and A Midsummer Night’s Dream,Coriolanus, The Winter’s Tale, and Romeo and Juliet at Shakespeare & Company. Television and film credits include The Blacklist, House Of Cards,The Men Who Stare at Goats, Kings, Law & Order, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Rescue Me.
Christopher Kann (Bob Feller)
Christopher Kann is reprising his role as Bob Feller after appearing in the premier at Crossroads last Fall. Other roles at the playhouse include Malvolio in Twelfth Night, Oberon in A Midsummer Night's Dream, Joe Cardin in The Children's Hour, and George Bailey in It's a Wonderful Life. Other credits include Full Circle at A.R.T., The Ape Woman at Berkshire Fringe, The Statue, Corpse and Me at Spotlight On Festival. Christopher is a graduate of Simon's Rock College and studied with Shakespeare and Company. He would like to thank Rick Khan, MJ Munafo and his wonderful family.
Soneela Nankani (Moira Hopkins)
Soneela Nankani is a New York-based artist who has performed at Kansas City Rep, Cherry Lane Theatre and The Oregon Shakespeare Festival, as well as with Tectonic Theater Project and Classical Theatre of Harlem. She is also an accomplished devised theatre artist and an Associate Artist with Sojourn Theatre. Soneela’s recent film, American Bomber, won the Mississippi International Film Festival and awards at the Manhattan and Art of Brooklyn Film Festivals. Her latest film, All the Sunflowers, is at film festivals this year. Soneela can also be heard on many audiobook recordings.
Michael R. Pauley (Franki Palmieri)
Michael Pauley is thrilled to be making his debut with Martha's Vineyard Playhouse. Regional credits include The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, Kansas Repertory Theatre, The Unicorn Theatre, Texas Shakespeare Festival, and the Theatre at Monmouth. Internationally he has performed at Teatro Canovas in Malaga and Teatro Franco Parenti in Milan. Television credits include Saturday Night Live, All My Children, Guiding Light and Rescue Me. Michael serves a founder and current Artistic Director of The Hyperion Theatre Company in New York City. He holds his MFA in Acting and Directing from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Michael would like thank his agents at SW Artists, and he is a proud member of Actors Equity and SAG-AFTRA.
Rob Karma Robinson (Satchel Paige)
Rob Karma Robinson is a Brooklyn/Houston native. He received his BFA from the University of Evansville and MFA from the National Theatre Conservatory. Since moving back to New York, credits include THE BLOWIN OF BAILE GALL by Ronan Noone at the Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse, his professional debut, the world premiere, EXPEDITION SIX, (written/dir. Bill Pullman) at the Kennedy Center, and two off off Broadway premiers, PROMISED TOMORROW TODAY, and HA! HA!, written by Lawrence Dial of the Labrats that debuted at the Downtown Urban Theater Festival last year. Some of his most recent work has been with such theater companies as Amios, and Red Shirt Entertainment, a subsidiary of the Walhberg entertainment group. He also played Tom Robinson in MRT's national tour of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD.
Stan Strickland (The Jazzman)
Peterson Townsend (Art Young)
Peterson is excited to work with this cast and crew at the Vineyard Playhouse. He was last seen as George in Raisin in the Sun at the Arden Theatre, where he also played Prince Sebastian in Cinderella, Crowther in History Boys, and George in Our Town. Other credits include Sebastian in Twelfth Night (Chicago Shakespeare Theatre); Reggie Banks in Big Doolie (NYC Fringe); Die Fledermaus, Prince Igor, Aida, Macbeth, Carmen, Anna Bolena, Nixon in China (Metropolitan Opera); Hospital (Axis Theatre); Northstar, A Lesson Before Dying (Triad Stage); Wanchese in The Lost Colony (Waterside Theatre); Young Mickey in The Day the Bronx Died (Raymond Hodges Theatre). Television: Law and Order: Criminal Intent, Law and Order, Gossip Girl, Sally Hemmings: an American Scandal.
Katy Atwell (Lighting Designer)
Katy Atwell is happy to be joining Martha's Vineyard Playhouse for the first time. She recently completed her MFA at Boston University where she designed Pacific Overtures, Skin of Our Teeth, and Anne Boleyn among other shows. She has worked as an assistant at The Huntington Theatre Company, Glimmerglass Opera Festival, and the Florida Grand Opera. She currently lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Scott Barrow (Fight Choreographer)
During the last 15 years Scott has been working with the Vineyard Playhouse as an actor (Retreat from Moscow, Proof, Our Town, Much Ado, 12th Night), as a director (Henry 4, Laramie Project; Ten Years Later), as a writer (Outcasts: The Lepers of Penikese Island), and fight choreographer (Blowin' of Baile Gall, Complete Works of Shakespeare Abridged). Scott is a founding member of Shakespeare for the Masses, a Frequent Fabulist, and Professor Projector. The Playhouse has always been an artistic home for Scott and he is thrilled it will continue to be so.
Scott has also been working with Tectonic Theatre Project since 2005 as an actor in 33 Variations (starring Jane Fonda), The Laramie Project, The Laramie Project Epilogue; Ten Years Later, The Dead Man's Curve , as a collaborator creating new works (including the above), and as a certified teacher of Moises Kaufman's Moment Work. Currently he is part of the Tectonic team building Andy Paris's Square Peg, which is an interview based play exploring the autism spectrum.
Elsewhere, Scott has also played major roles at the New York Theatre Workshop, Arena Stage, The Arden Theatre, Arkansas Repertory, Commonwealth Shakespeare, Hartford Stage, The Wilma Theater, The Mint, Nevada Shakespeare in the Park, DC's Studio Theatre, New Repertory, The Geva, The Olney, the Metropolitan Playhouse, Portland Stage, Cincinnati Playhouse, New Jersey Shakespeare, Urban Stages, and Trinity Rep among others.
Scott got his MFA in Acting from Brandeis University and trained with Shakespeare and Company, working in their much acclaimed education department. He has developed residency programs for lower, middle and high school students with Brooklyn Academy of Music, Harvard, the Shakespeare Society of New York, Lehigh University, the Times Square Group, East Side Montessori, and with Stages on the Sound; where as Director of Education, he has created an ongoing program that is providing year-long arts residencies to 21 schools in Brooklyn and Queens and providing over 5000 students with programming in film, Shakespeare, and playwriting. Currently, Scott's theatrical introduction to Shakespeare for students reluctant to read the Bard's plays (Shakespeare in ACTion) is making its 10th tour. He is Emmett's dad.
Cynthia Bermudes (Costume Designer)
B.A. Fashion Merchandising; B.A. Fashion Design Oregon State University. While in school, Cynthia spent several years working at the costume shop for main stage and designing costumes for side stage. Upon graduation she spent summers working at Shakespeare festivals, eventually ending up on Martha’s Vineyard. For many years she was proprietress of a design and alteration studio. Cynthia currently owns and runs a pony breeding farm in West Tisbury. The love of theater and design has brought her full circle back to the Martha's Vineyard Playhouse.
Marla Blakey (Choreographer)
Marla Blakey, a 25-year resident of Oak Bluffs, hoping to one day live in France, was a choreographer in Los Angeles for over 20 years working with artists such as Bette Midler, Sting, Aretha Franklin, several Motown artists and numerous others. Since living on Martha’s Vineyard, she has directed and choreographed several productions at the Playhouse such as JACQUES BREL, OAK AND IVY, SPUNK, LADY DAY AT EMERSON’S BAR AND GRILLE, to name a few. She has produced and staged many jazz concerts, dance projects, and fashion show productions on the island as well. Marla is eternally grateful to the island community for their long and enduring support of her as an artist.
Christine Lomaka (Stage Manager)
Christine Lomaka has been stage managing for the Playhouse since 2000, proud to have worked on the premiere of “The Whaleship Essex.” Earlier productions include “Rounding Third,” “A Life In the Theatre,” “Far East” and “5 Mojo Secrets.” As a free lance stage manager, she’s worked with numerous companies including Trinity Rep, Syracuse Stage, SpeakEasy Stage, Shakespeare and Company and LA Opera. Chris spent 15 years in Los Angeles working in film, television, opera and theatre, and was the production manager for the comedy improv troupe, The Groundlings. She’s been a member of Actors Equity since 1987.
Mac Young (Set Designer)
Martha's Vineyard born and raised, Mac Young first walked through the doors of the Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse when he was in high school, for a TeenProv! session with MJ, he’s been here ever since. He has worked as a Scenic Carpenter for companies such as New Rep, Wheelock Family Theatre, and the Lyric, and primarily for the Huntington theatre company, where he was a fixture of the scene shop and run crew for several years. He was an Associate Artistic Director with Whistler in the Dark theatre for 3 seasons, and in addition to being a part of their core acting ensemble, he designed many of their productions (THE EUROPEANS, FEN, and DOG’S HAMLET/CAHOOT'S MACBETH). He directed and designed VINEGAR TOM, and performed in TALES FROM OVID (IRNE Award winning, Elliot Norton Award nominated: Best Production, 2011 and 2013). He spent several seasons with Imaginary Beasts theatre co., exploring the unique challenge of designing a set while serving as a member of the acting ensemble (Macbett, Crazy Locomotive, Moliére Squared).