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Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

by August Wilson

To 18 May
Running Time: Approx 2hrs 35mins inc. one interval

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

August Wilson's classic play inspired by the real-life Blues legend.

Winner! Olivier Awards 2016 - Best Revival 


Chicago, 1927. In a recording studio on the city’s South Side, a battle of wills is raging.

Ma Rainey, Mother of the Blues, uses every trick in the book to fight her record producers for control of her music. Hardened by years of ill-treatment and bad deals, she’s determined that ‘Black Bottom’, the song that bears her name, will be recorded her way.

But Levee, the band’s swaggering young trumpet player, plans to catapult the band into the jazz age. His ambition puts them all in danger.

Inspired by the real-life Blues legend and infused with her music, August Wilson’s play speaks powerfully of a struggle for self-determination against overwhelming odds.

Sharon D Clarke plays Ma Rainey.

5 star rating

A marvellous revival. Exemplary and revelatory.

Daily Telegraph
5 star rating

A masterpiece. Breathtaking.

Sunday Times
5 star rating

A terrific revival. Sharon D Clarke leads a superb cast in this knockout production.

5 star rating

Drop-dead brilliant. A near perfect production.

Daily Express
4 star rating

Dominic Cooke’s excellent revival. August Wilson's blues still electrify in this landmark play

4 star rating

A pitch-perfect, superbly acted production

Financial Times
4 star rating

Vital drama. Glorious

Evening Standard
4 star rating

Lively, truthful, beautifully performed.

The Times

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom Rehearsal images

Watch the trailer

Playing until 18 May 2016 in the Lyttelton Theatre.

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'Ma Rainey's Black Bottom' performed by Sharon D Clarke and band

Studio recording of the title track from the show

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Dominic Cooke on Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

The director discusses his new production of August Wilson’s play, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, with Ola Animshawun.

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Understudy Dussie Mae
Teri Ann Bobb-Baxter
Sharon D Clarke
Ma Rainey
Sharon D Clarke
Understudy Toledo/Cutler
Ricardo Coke-Thomas
John Paul Connolly
Understudy Levee
Jermaine Dominique
Clint Dyer
O-T Fagbenle
Understudy Sturdyvant/Irvin
Stephen Fawkes
Dussie Mae
Tamara Lawrance
Tunji Lucas
Finbar Lynch
Stuart McQuarrie
Stuart McQuarrie
Understudy Sylvester/Slow Drag
Kadeem Pearse
Slow Drag
Giles Terera
Understudy Ma Rainey
Lucy Vandi

Production team

Photography (Sharon D Clarke) by Seamus Ryan

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