1st Stage

1524 SPRING HILL ROAD | TYSONS, VA 22102 | (703) 854-1856

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

June 1 - June 25, 2017

Written by August Wilson, Directed by Deidra LaWan Starnes

From the extraordinary mind of Pulitzer, Tony, and Academy Award recognized playwright, August Wilson comes one of America’s most renowned stories. Inspired by the real life of legendary blues singer, Gertrude “Ma” Rainey, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is the opening installment in August Wilson’s award-winning Century Cycle– 10 illustrious plays that explore the African-American experience in each decade of the 20th century.

A Tony Award Nominee for “Best Play,” The New York Times raves that Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is “Extraordinary! [Wilson] writes with compassion, raucous humor and penetrating wisdom.” Don’t miss this theatrical tour-de-force by one of America’s greatest playwrights.

Buy Tickets

Community Conversations

Connecting the community through artwork, stories, and conversation. Join us for discussions surrounding the themes of our plays and the impact of these stories on the community beyond our walls.

MEET THE DIRECTOR: A conversation with Deidra LaWan Starnes
June 4, 2017
Following the 2 pm performance-
A 1st Stage Artistic Associate, Ms. Starnes joins the production team again following her incredible performance in The Good Counselor in June 2015. We are thrilled to welcome her back, this time as the director of this monumental piece of theater. We’ll have a chance to talk with Ms. Starnes about helming a Wilson play and what it means to be doing this work in present day America. 

Buy Tickets


MEET THE CAST: A discussion with the talented Ma Rainey’s performers
June 10, 2017 (updated!)
Following the 2 pm performance-
Performing a Wilson piece requires precise skill and training. A poet, Wilson writes in a lyrical and unique style. Wesley Morris of The New York Times recently commented, “How often do you get to work with this kind of rich, meaty poetry that’s also so particular to a people, which is to say so beautifully black? That, I imagine, is both the joy and the stress of doing Wilson. You want to be worthy of the words.” We’ll sit with the cast to discuss performing Wilson’s work.

Buy Tickets


THROUGH THE LENS: A discussion with Professor Michelle R. Scott of UMBC
June 17, 2017
Following the 2pm performance- 
Professor Scott is an Associate Professor of History and Affiliate faculty member in African Studies, Gender and Women’s Studies and the Language, Literacy and Culture program at University of Maryland, Baltimore County. She has presented in national and international forums on blues music, black women’s history, and American popular culture. We will sit down with Prof. Scott to discuss the gender dynamics and race/gender power struggle at play in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Join us to learn more about the history behind this powerful story.

Buy Tickets


WILLIAM AITKEN (Sturdyvant) has appeared at 1st Stage as E.J. Lofgren in Harvey and Skipper in Take me Out. He has also appeared as Duncan in Mack, Beth; TV Director/Patient in The Sunshine Boys, Col. Randolph in A Few Good Men, Scanlon in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Bear in Elizabeth Rex (Keegan Theatre); Reed Casey in The Electric Baby, Sir Walter Raleigh in Kit Marlowe (Rorschach Theatre); Norfolk in A Man for All Seasons, Ensemble in Middletown (NextStop Theatre), Old Man in We Tiresias (Forum Theater); and Ansel in Killer Joe (SeeNoSun OnStage).

TRACEY FARRAR (Dussie Mae) is pleased to make her 1st Stage debut. Credits-REGIONAL: Amiens/Sir Oliver Martext in ​As You Like It, Ensemble in Marley ​(Center Stage); Mrs. Little in ​Stuart Little ​- MTC Helen Hayes Nomination, Outstanding Production, Theatre for Young Audiences (Adventure Theatre); Sophia Jones in ​Dontrell, Who Kissed the Sea ​(Source Theatre Festival); The Widow in ​Utopia Parkway ​(Single Carrot Theatre); Justine in ​Ask Me No Questions (Joe’s Movement Emporium); Lampito in ​Lysistrata (Run of the Mill Theatre); Clare in ​The Tie That Binds ​(Arena Players); Claudette Colvin in ​How Old is a Hero? ​(Smithsonian/Discovery Theater). FILM: Rebecca in Wits End​ (Old Academy Pictures). Education: BA, Theatre Arts, Morgan State University. Trust in the Lord with all your heart…He will direct your path!

JASON B. MCINTOSH* (Slow Drag) is delighted to make his debut at 1st Stage. Some of his recent/favorite credits include: Othello (Chesapeake Shakespeare Company); When January Feels Like Summer (Mosaic Theater Company); Ruined, Fences (Everyman Theatre Company); Superior Donuts, Jerry Springer: The Opera, Fucking A (Studio Theatre); Master Harold…and the boys (Quotidian Theatre Company). FILM CREDITS include: Killing Kennedy. He also has several regional voice-over credits. He studied at Shakespeare Theatre’s Academy for Classical Acting at George Washington University and Studio Theatre Acting Conservatory. Jason B. McIntosh is a proud member of Actors Equity Association. www.jasonbmcintosh.com

THOMASCENA NELSON (Ma Rainey) is pleased to be making her first appearance at 1st Stage. She has been honored to sing around the world with many dynamic musicians as a member of Roberts’ Revival. As a singer of sacred songs, she has had the opportunity to work with the late Leon C. Roberts, David Haas, Bobby Fisher and Marty Haugen, to name a few. As a solo artist, Tomi has performed throughout the DC Metro area, New York City, and Oregon. Currently Tomi is pleased to be singing and recording with various artists such as Robert Person, Nova Tate, and is a member of the jazz gospel group “Divine Order,” a vision of the world-class jazz pianist and composer Allyn Johnson. Most recent theatre productions include: workshops of Silver Foxxes and Absalom (Arena Stage’s New Play Festival); TRUTH The Musical (THEARC); Black Nativity – 2014 winner of three Helen Hayes Awards (Theater Alliance); Simply Simone (Kennedy Center Page to Stage); Simply Simone (Essential Theatre); Wasn’t that a Mighty Day? (Anacostia Playhouse).

WILLIAM T. NEWMAN, JR.* (Cutler) is delighted to be performing with 1st Stage for the first time. LOCAL CREDITS: The Gospel at Colonus (Gunston Arts Center); Let’s Get Sanctified (Lincoln Theatre); The Winter’s Tale and Julius Caesar (Arena Stage). REGIONAL CREDITS: The Great White Hope (Ohio Valley Summer Theatre). FILM AND TV CREDITS: Lee Daniels’ The Butler and NBC’s Somerset. EDUCATION: BFA in Acting from Ohio University Professional Acting Studio.

TENDO NSUBUGA (Sylvester) is pleased to make his 1st Stage debut! Other credits include — Looking For Roberto Clemente (Imagination Stage); Heathers: The Musical, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (Red Branch Theatre Company); In His Own Words: A Tribute to Walter Dean Myers (The Kennedy Center). Education: BA in Theatre, University of Maryland; Overtures: The Musical Theatre Institute at Signature Theatre.

JOE PALKA (Irvin) thought life was grand just knowing Deidra LaWan Starnes, but now he’s working with her?  His debut at 1st Stage yet!  And yes, he’s happy to be here! LOCAL: Portrayed most recently Maurice in The Night Alive (Quotidian Theatre); Captain Boyle in Juno and the Paycock; Richard III; Edward III; Small Craft Warnings, and The Miser (WSC Avant Bard); The Tempest and The Schemings of Scapin (Annapolis Shakespeare); Richard in The Seafarer (Scena Theatre).  PLAYWRIGHT: Last Stand, Or, The Polish Sharpshooters has enjoyed several productions around the country; Mookie Cranks a Tater! (Alleyway Theatre, Buffalo); and Executive Leverage (Source Theatre – Helen Hayes nominee, Best Musical).

CLAYTON PELHAM, JR. (Levee) is ecstatic about making his 1st Stage debut! Clayton’s other credits include: Beta in Charm (Mosaic Theatre); Gunman in The Orbit in Mercury (S/R) (Spooky Action); Kris in The Theatrical Mixtape of the 90’s (Flying V Theater); Season of Lights (Discovery Theatre); Words Become Flesh – Helen Hayes Nomination, Outstanding Supporting Actor/Best Ensemble (Theater Alliance); Cléante/Jacques in The Miser (Faction of Fools); Solomon in Solomon and Marion (Anacostia Playhouse). TELEVISION CREDITS include: Criminals at Work (Black Entertainment Television); Southern Fried Homicide (Investigation Discovery). FILM CREDITS: Money Matters, Orange Juice in Bishops Garden. Education: American Musical and Dramatic Academy, Studio Theatre Acting Conservatory. Personal Training: Vera J. Katz.

This is Michael’s first production with 1st Stage. CREDITS-OFF-BROADWAY: Persephone (Brooklyn Academy of Music). REGIONAL: Jitney, Of Mice and Men (Cincinnati Playhouse In The Park); Jitney, To Kill A Mockingbird (Ford’s); King Hedley II (Arena Stage); Unexplored Interior (Mosaic); Starving (Woolly Mammoth); Jesus Hopped the “A” Train, Two Trains Running (Roundhouse); Venus, Omnium Gatherum (Olney); Master Harold and the Boys (Studio); Fences. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Swine Palace); The Colored Museum (Victory Gardens); The Bluest Eye (Theater Alliance); and Two Trains Running – 2015 Helen Hayes nomination for The James MacArthur Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Play (Round House). TELEVISION: The Wire (HBO), FBI Files, Homicide: Life on the Streets (NBC). FILM: Losing Isaiah, The Replacements, Contact, Unbreakable, The Brave One. Michael dedicates his complete body of work to his daughter, Margarita Williams.




JOSHUA WITT (Policemanis appearing for the first time at 1st Stage. Since recently returning to the Washington DC area he has appeared in Richard III (Chesapeake Shakespeare Company) and Twelfth Night (Annapolis Shakespeare Company). Joshua has performed mostly in Chicago, and among numerous productions some of his favorite roles have been Jerry in Zoo Story (Triton), Scooter in Tracers (Inn Town Players), The Man in Brilliant Adventures (Steep), Sheriff Heck Tate in To Kill a Mockingbird (Wisdom Bridge) and Montana Smith in LIFEIDREAMEDOF (Center Theatre). Joshua studied at the Goodman School of Drama at DePaul University.

*Member of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States, appearing under a Special Appearance Contract.

Special Events





Barr_Hill_logo_blackgottaswinglogo1ccdc_logo2FFX times logo Doug and Diane    Ray and Debbie    

Lynne and Bobby Silverstein
Stephen Cumbie and Druscilla French


esquire_confections_logo  danielles_desserts_logo  The Happy Tart Logo Update-2  littlesugarsblackwriting

Start your evening at an exclusive dinner party hosted by 1st Stage supporters.  Then don your fedoras and pearls and head to the swinging 1st Stage Speakeasy. Join 1st Stage artists and patrons for an evening filled with music, dancing, signature cocktails, and special guest appearances. Still have questions? Check out our Benefit FAQ!

Show your support and get your name in front of Tysons, McLean, Vienna audiences. View our Benefit Sponsorship Packages- 1st Stage Benefit Sponsorship 2017. For more information, contact Heidi Fortune, Director of Constituent Engagement.

Dinner party locations will be distributed to attendees prior to the event along with contact information for the hosts. Join us for a truly unique evening in support of 1st Stage.

Buy Tickets

Your support of the 9th Annual Benefit will allow us to continue providing world-class theater for this outstanding community. We are entering an exciting new growth phase as we approach our 10th anniversary season, and your support will make it possible! Thank you for supporting the future of the arts in Tysons.

Give Now

Chairs: Thomas G. Goodwin and Cheryl Matheis
Committee: John Perry, Phyllis Cela, Elizabeth Broussard, Idy Marcus, Lynn Gutter, Linda Falkerson, Eileen Mandell

Melissa and Gene Nicholson
Deborah Kahn and Harris Miller
Phyllis Cela and Gary Sidell together with Tina and Leo Rosenthal
Kathleen Gilles Seidel
Judith O. Mueller
Thomas G. Goodwin and Cheryl Matheis
Howard Forman and Elaine Weinstein
Sandra and Sandy Winans

Season 2016-2017