Toni Stone is playing at the Laura Pels Theatre located at 111 West 46th Street. It runs two hours fifteen minutes with one intermission. The play closes on August 11, 2019.
The story is based on the book called Curve Ball, The Remarkable Story of Toni Stone by Martha Ackmann.
Toni Stone was born as Marcenia Lyle Stone (July 17, 1921-November 2, 1996) played for the San Francisco Sea Lions in the West Coast Negro Baseball League in 1945. In 1953 she was traded to the Indianapolis Clowns of the Negro League and in 1954 she signed to the Kansas City Monarchs. She retired following that season. She became one of the first women to play as a regular on a big league professional team. In the summer of 1954 she stepped to the plate at an exhibition game in Yankee Stadium.
Pam MacKinnon is the director. She won a Tony Award for Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (2013) and was nominated for a Tony Award for Clybourne Park (2012).
Camille A. Brown is the choreographer. She was nominated for a Tony Award for Choir Boy (2019).
“Time/Place is the 1920’s—50’s, various locales in Toni’s life.”
Toni Stone (April Matthis) is telling the audience how she feels having a ball in her hand and throwing it. She feels whole.
We meet her when she joins the Indianapolis Clowns. From time to time we go back in her life to find out how she got to where she is now.
Toni has to prove herself even more as a player despite the fact she is better than some of the men on the team. She has to haggle about her salary, to be paid the same as the men. The owner of the team tells the other team’s coaches to go easy when they pitch the ball to her. Toni argues that she doesn’t want that.
If the team plays another African American team they play the game as usual. If they are playing against a white team they act likes clowns and stall on the hits till near the end of the game. If they win they get out of there as fast as they can. Racial slurs are thrown at them during game.
One night after a game she goes to a bar she regularly goes to. She wears a men’s hat and jacket. Alberga (Harry Blanks) strikes a conversation with her. They meet several times at the bar. He would like to go out with her but baseball is more important to her. In the end they marry.
Millie (Kenn E. Head) works in a hotel she stays in. They become friends. She tries to give advice on how to be more feminine.
When she was young she recalls seeing Gabby Street (a coach and other things) give lesson to students. When he would see her he would case her away. But she’d come back to hear what he say. She admired him as a coach. When she got older she found he was a member of the KKK.
We see her at different stages with her team, in the dugout, on the field and on the bus traveling to another game.
Toni never backs down; she fought to do what she loved doing, play ball.
Once she was married they cut down the time she was on the field. At first she fought it but she came to realized she did what she had wanted to play ball now was the time to retire.
This is one woman everyone should know about. She fought for what she wanted to do, play ball. Despite the fact she was a woman and African American. Three cheers for Toni Stone.
April Matthis was remarkable as Toni Stone. Johnathan Burke, Ezra Knight and Kenn E. Head did an impressive performance.
This is a must see play.
Review by Rozanna Radakovich.
Photos by Annazor.
To read a candid interview with the cast, scroll down to the left for photos. Click on photos for this and other shows.