‘Toni Stone at the Alliance Theatre
The Alliance Theatre hits it out of the park with “Toni Stone,” the true story of the life of the first woman to have ever played professional baseball. The cast, script and set design are captivating and the production is stellar.
In the 1940s, Toni Stone (Kedren Spencer) played in the Negro League in the Professional baseball circuit for the Indianapolis Clowns, but her love for the sport began when she was just a child, playing ball all day, and sneaking around the field where the white boys would play so she could listen to the advice of their coach. Her mother wanted to dress her in lace and put her in more girly sports like track and ice skating where she respectively placed third and first, but she didn’t care about those sports.
Baseball is all that is on Toni’s mind. She cites the RBIs and the number of hits for the star players on her baseball cards. Although the white boys don’t know the answers to their coach’s questions, she does. At practice, she has her own moves: she squats and shakes her butt up and down preparing to catch a ball or run to a base and she winds her arm in circles like a ferris wheel before throwing.
While ragtime and jazz play in the background, the shenanigans on the practice field are choreographed brilliantly, and when the team has to hustle out of a game against a white team where they try to outrun them and get on the bus before getting beat up, it’s a perfect orchestration of timing and ballet.
While racism and sexism abound, as does the humor, and you never feel like you’re being preached to. You’re just there in the background watching the negro league at bat in life enjoying the game, the joking and one another.
“Toni Stone” is a homerun and a win. If you miss this production, you lose.
Written by Lydia R. Diamond, directed by Tinashe Kajese-Bolden, “Toni Stone” runs at the Alliance Theatre through Feb. 27.
Geoffrey D. Williams
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