“Champions aren't made in the gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them – a desire, a dream, a vision.” — Muhammad Ali
And In This Corner…Cassius Clay begins with twenty-something year old Cassius Clay, soon to become Muhammad Ali, addressing us about growing up in a Louisville that was “split down the middle.” We travel back to 1953, when Cassius was 11 years old as Cassius’ mother struggles to tell her sons they cannot enter a local diner because it is “White Only”. At age 12, young Cassius defiantly declares to his friends that he is going to be the first “negro superhero”.
When his new bike is stolen, he intends to use his superpowers to whup the culprit, but he is stopped by police officer Joe Martin. Joe convinces him to learn to fight at a boxing gym instead. Cassius dedicates himself to his training, and his newfound talent gives him the courage to challenge a neighborhood bully in the ring.
As his skills improve Joe convinces him to conquer his fear of flying and to compete in the 1960 Olympics.
During an interview, after winning the gold, Cassius dodges a question about segregation, but can’t dodge his best friend Eddie when he returns home. Eddie accuses him of fighting only for himself and challenges him to use his celebrity to stand up for important issues.
Cassius bravely returns to the diner with Eddie, but they are still refused service. He throws his gold medal in the Ohio River vowing to never be treated as second-class again. The friends say goodbye as Eddie leaves to join the Freedom Riders and Cassius prepares for his first professional fight.
Before entering the ring and becoming real-life superhero Muhammad Ali, Cassius decides he is going to be the type of person who fights not only for himself, but for others too.
The reviews are in!
“The high polish and professionalism in this story of boxer Muhammad Ali (in his youth) makes it great fun for grown-ups too!” – Richard Green, ALIVE Magazine
“And In This Corner… Cassius Clay is very smart and entertaining…and is very much worth seeing” – Bob Wilcox & Jerry Kowarsky, Two On the Aisle
“Goodwin’s script is crafted to draw in audience members of all ages, and he has succeeded.” – Shannon Cothran, KDHX
“The ultimate take away is to encourage the audience to use life’s obstacles to channel their inner champion – which resides in everyone –and fight for what’s right.” – Kenya Vaughn, The St. Louis American
“I’m not surprised to hear that the playwright has struck gold again.” – Chuck Lavazzi, Stage Left St. Louis
Check out our segments with the Nine Network’s Living St. Louis
Read the following interviews with the cast and crew:
The Arts Today: actor, Trigney Morgan, portraying Cassius Clay
The St. Louis Post Dispatch: Idris Goodwin and director, Julia Flood
West End Word & Webster-Kirkwood Times: Flood, Goodwin & Morgan
Or see what these other great news organizations have to say:
In alphabetical order.
Phillip Dixon (Cassius Clay, Sr.) is an actor who has had the pleasure of working with several professional companies in the St. Louis area, and is pleased to work with Metro Theater Company on this exciting production. Phillip has also participated in new work development with Metro and was last seen as part of Metro’s Forum Theater ensemble, performing Say Something, Do Something! for area middle schoolers.
Katy Keating (Waitress/Ensemble) loves working with Metro Theater Company! Last fall, she played Carol, Catie, and Cathy Cleary in Metro’s touring production of Talkin’ Trash. Katy recently appeared in The Runaway Cupcake with Onsite Theatre and Or What You Will with Poor Monsters. She would like to thank the cast and crew for their hard work and love during this production; it’s been a blast!
Erik Kuhn (Zbigniew Pietrzkowski/Ensemble) has built sets for Metro before (including this one) but is thrilled to also be making his onstage debut with the company. Between his work as an actor, fight director, and technician; he only wishes there was more time in the day so he could see more of the wonderful theater happening here in St Louis. Recent credits include Jack Rover in Wild Oats and Sebastian in Twelfth Night with St Louis Shakespeare, Lighting Design for SATE’s, The 39 Steps, Fight Direction at Washington University of St Louis & Crossroads College Prep, as well as Technical Director for Upstream Theater and Visitation Academy.
Trigney Morgan (Cassius Clay, Jr.) is delighted to be making his debut with Metro Theater Company in And In This Corner: Cassisus Clay. Trigney lives in Chicago, and recently graduated from the theater school at the University of Illinois at Chicago with a BFA in performing arts. He also has training from Chicago’s famous Second City Theater in impov. Some of his favorite roles at UIC include: Red Carter in SEVEN GUITARS, Cleomenes in THE WINTERS TALE, and Rooftop in OUR LADY OF 121st STREET. He also played Charles in a new piece: LEAVES, TREES, FOREST at the Green House Theater, for which he was nominated for best male actor by the Chicago Black Theater Alliance. His film credits include: a supporting role on NBC’s CHICAGO FIRE and multiple commercials (KFC, Sub Zero Refrigerator, and a Lollapalooza web commercial.) Trigney enjoys writing comedy and music. In Chicago, He is a part of a growing music collective called “Kid Made Modern” where he raps and performs. He would like to thank the Metro Theater family for welcoming him in. Trigney wishes to thank his family for all of their love and support, and dedicates his performance to his late grandmother, Ollie Mae Dodds.
Jeanitta Perkins (Odessa Clay) is ecstatic to return to the Metro Theater Company stage! She has been a professional actress since 2010. Some of her favorite past productions include Facing the Shadow (Alice) with The Black Rep, The Further Adventures Of Hedda Gabbler (Mammy) with St. Louis Shakespeare, and Passing Strange (Desi) with New Line Theatre. Jeanitta is a voice actor with NOW Talent Management and she has had the honor of performing Jazz at the Sheldon Concert Hall! Ms. Perkins is a nationally certified optician by trade and her adorable 3-year-old son has made his acting debut in a Laclede Gas commercial! Jeanitta would like to thank God and her family for their everlasting love and support.
Carl Overly, Jr. (Corky Baker) is thrilled to be making his mainstage debut with Metro after appearing in their touring productions of New Kid (2007-2008) and Say Something, Do Something (2013). Carl was last seen as Clown 1 in The 39 Steps with Slightly Askew Theatre Ensemble. Carl has worked locally with The Black Rep, St. Louis Actors’ Studio, Upstream Theater, Shakespeare Festival St. Louis, Magic Smoking Monkey and ERA (Equally Represented Arts) among others. He would like to thank his family and friends for their continued support. #GoSeeAPlay
Maalik Adofo Shakoor (Sugar Ray Robinson/Ensemble) is making his first appearance with Metro Theater Company. A film production student at Webster University, Maalik has both directed and acted in films and commercials. Favorite stage performances include Orders by Kevin D. Ferguson, How To Be Black by Baratunde Thurston and the SFSTL Shakespeare in the Streets production of Good In Everything based on Shakespeare’s As You Like It. Maalik was in the Cultural Leadership class of 2012 and was selected to be the group’s spokesperson during a podcast with Rev. Al Sharpton.
Kenyata Tatum (Reporter/Ensemble) is an Alumnus of the University of Missouri – St. Louis (UMSL) where she received her BA in Theatre and Dance in May 2015. While at UMSL she was fortunate to have been cast in her first lead role as Ova in, In the Red and Brown Water. Since graduation, she has been involved with other projects such as: The Runaway Cupcake (Bakers Assistant) with Onsite Theatre, a short student film called “My Brother’s Keeper”, and modeling. She is also preparing for one of the biggest Latin dance festival showcases in Reno, Nevada under the instruction of Evan Shuvo and Bethany Gray, as a member of Saint Louis Touch dance team. She would like to thank Metro Theater Company for the honor of being a part of such a wonderful production, as well as the cast and audience. She hopes you all will continue to support the arts.
Nicolas Tayborn (Rudy Clay) loves performing with Metro. This is his third production with Metro following his debut in Unsorted last fall. He’s also served as a teaching artist/assistant for Metro’s Creative Arts Camp this past summer. Some of his other favorite projects include Grease, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, A Raisin In the Sun, and To Kill A Mockingbird. He attended the B.F.A. acting program at Southeast MO State University. Outside of theater, Nic also makes a living as a DJ. Nic would like to thank Metro Theater Company for the opportunities he’s been given and their guidance on and off the stage; and his family and friends for all their support as he pursues his passion.
Jaz Tucker (Eddie/Soapbox Man) performed his first acting role at the age of thirteen. Knowing this was his calling, his mother made him audition, and that was when Jaz knew he’d want to do this for the rest of his life. Since then Jaz has gone on to be involved in several productions both on and off the stage including The State of Mississippi vs. Emmett Till (Emmett Till) with Unity Theatre Ensemble, The Odd Couple (Vinne) with KTK Productions, and Scene Two and Bleacher Bums at Forest Park Community College. His favorite role has been Reverend Hooker in Dearly Departed with the Theatre Guild of Webster Groves. Jaz also has a YouTube channel, “Same Difference.”
David Wassilak (Officer Joe Martin) last performed with Metro Theater Company as Branch Rickey in Jackie and Me and as Father in The Giver. Most recently he was seen as Nick in Sight Unseen at The New Jewish Theatre where he also played The Writer in The Good Doctor. Other roles include: Doctor Royer-Collard in Quills at Max & Louie Productions, and twins John and James Jeckyll in Love! Valour! Compassion! He has performed with Stray Dog Theatre, where he appeared as Roy Cohn in both parts of Angels in America for which he was honored with a St. Louis Theater Circle Award. He has worked with St. Louis Actors’ Studio, West End Players Guild, St. Louis Shakespeare, The Midnight Company, The New Theatre, Orthwein Theatre Company, The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Theatre Project Company and more. David teaches adult acting classes at COCA.
In alphabetical order.
Lou Bird (Costume Designer) is pleased to be returning to Metro Theater Company to design And In This Corner…Cassius Clay. Other designs for Metro Theater Company include: Afflicted: Daughters of Salem, Jackie and Me, Unsorted, Super Cowgirl and Mighty Miracle, Battledrum, Tomato Plant Girl, The Giver, To Kill a Mockingbird, Go, Dog. Go!, New Kid and Hana’s Suitcase. Lou’s many design credits include Stages St. Louis, The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Imaginary Theatre Company and Shakespeare Festival St. Louis. Lou is Director of Theater at Saint Louis University, where he also teaches costume design and construction, as well as stage combat.
David Blake (Set Designer/Technical Director) is pleased to be working on such an important play. Past design credits with Metro include Afflicted: Daughters of Salem and Talkin’ Trash. Other St. Louis scenic design credits include Stray Dog Theatre’s The Great American Trailer Park Musical (St. Louis Theatre Circle Nomination), Spring Awakening, Gypsy, and Little Shop of Horrors (St. Louis Theatre Circle Nomination); Winning Juliet with Shakespeare Festival St. Louis; Kosher Lutherans with HotCity Theatre; and Mary Shelley Monster Show with Slightly Askew Theatre Ensemble. David is technical director for Metro Theater Company and for Clayton High School’s theater department. Love to family, friends and to Paul.
Julia Flood (Artistic Director/Director) has directed Talkin’ Trash, Afflicted: Daughters of Salem, Unsorted and Say Something, Do Something! for Metro Theater Company since she moved to St. Louis to become Artistic Director in February 2014. Previously, Julia spent 16 years as Artistic Director of Eckerd Theater Company in Clearwater, Florida where she commissioned such plays as Vote? by Eric Coble, provoked by Florida’s role in the 2000 Presidential election, and Battledrum by Doug Cooney with Lee Ahlin, a musical about the effects of war on young people through the lens of Civil War drummer boys, subsequently produced at Metro Theater Company. A graduate of Northwestern University, Julia spent seven years as a resident member of the Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble in Pennsylvania, a unique artist-led ensemble founded under the guidance of legendary acting teacher Alvina Krause, before following a free-lance career as actor/director/playwright/teacher. This path led to Florida and eventually to her new artistic home in St. Louis. Julia is a member of Actors’ Equity Association and the Dramatists Guild, has served on the national Board of Directors of Theatre for Young Audiences/USA since 2011, and brings more than 35 years of experience to her role as Artistic Director of Metro Theater Company.
Drew Fracher (Fight Director) is a director, fight director and actor who has freelanced professionally for over thirty years. He has directed plays from Shakespeare to world premieres at regional theatres throughout the U.S., and has staged fights for over two hundred and fifty professional productions, including Broadway and grand opera. Drew serves as a fight master with the Society of American Fight Directors. His work as a fight director has been seen at theatres throughout the United States, including Actor’s Theatre of Louisville, Missouri Repertory Theatre, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, The George Street Playhouse, The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis and the Alabama and Kentucky Shakespeare Festivals, Georgia Shakespeare, and Cincinnati Shakespeare Company.
Emily Frei (Props Designer) is a scenic artist and props artisan for many theaters in St. Louis. A member of United Scenic Artists Local 829, she paints for The Muny, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, and The Repertory Theatre. Emily designed props for Metro’s productions of Battledrum and Jackie and Me and is happy to be working on her third production with Metro Theater Company.
Idris Goodwin (Playwright) is a playwright, rapper and essayist. His plays include How We Got On, Remix 38 (Actors Theater of Louisville); And In This Corner…Cassius Clay (StageOne Family Theater), This is Modern Art (Steppenwolf), Blackademics (MPAACT, Crowded Fire), Bars and Measures (B Street Theatre, NNPN RWP), and The Raid (Jackalope Theatre). Goodwin is one of the six playwrights featured in Hands Up, an anthology commissioned by The New Black Fest. Hands Up has been presented across the country. His latest play The Realness will have a world premiere in 2016 at Merrimack Repertory Theatre. He is the recipient of Oregon Shakespeare’s American History Cycle Commission and InterAct Theater’s 20/20 Award. Goodwin has been a writer in residence at The Eugene O’Neil Playwrights Center, Berkeley Rep’s Ground Floor Program, The Lark Playwriting Center and New Harmony Project. An accomplished Hip Hop poet, his albums include Break Beat Poems and Rhyming While Black. Goodwin was featured on HBO, Sesame Street and Discovery Channel. He is the author of the pushcart nominated essay collection, These Are the Breaks (Write Bloody, 2011). Idris is the co-host and contributor to Critical Karaoke, a radio show and podcast about music and culture. Idris teaches performance writing and Hip Hop aesthetics at Colorado College.
Katy Keating (Dialect Coach) Please see Katy’s bio in the Cast Bios section.
Erik Kuhn (Assistant Technical Director/Fight Captain) Please see Erik’s bio in the Cast Bios section.
Michael B. Perkins (Projections Design) designs audio/visual elements for local theatre and is also the Education & Community Projects Manager for Shakespeare Festival St. Louis. Recent projects include 9 Parts of Desire (UMSL), The Kiss (Upstream Theatre), Tales of Shakespeare (Shakespeare Festival St. Louis), Wagner’s 4-part Der Ring des Nibelungen (Union Avenue Opera), The Killing of Sister George (Max & Louie Productions), Imagining Madoff and Becoming Dr. Ruth (New Jewish Theater). He’s also designed for Mustard Seed Theatre, Dramatic License Productions, Action for Autism, Clayton High School, Crossroads College Prep, and others. Upcoming: How We Got On (UMSL) and BRIEF5 LGBT Short Play Festival. Love to Ser Robert, Kit, & Gloriana. Thanks David, Julia, the Metro team, and MHM. MichaelBPerkins.com
Anna Richards (Assistant Stage Manager) is excited to join the Metro team with her first assistant stage managing position. Anna graduated from Washington University in St. Louis last May with a BA in Drama. While her ultimate love is directing, Anna is loving exploring all areas of theater. She has recently been seen as Mrs. Brennan in Telegraph and just completed directing a long-term labor of love titled, A Day in the Life. She would like to thank Metro Theater Company for taking a chance on her, and her family and friends for always encouraging her eccentric dreams.
Sarah E. Rugo (Production Manager), is in her twelfth season with Metro and in that time has stage managed twelve touring productions and twelve mainstage productions for the company. After earning her BFA in musical theatre from Shenandoah Conservatory in Virginia, she completed an internship with Lexington Children’s Theatre before moving to St. Louis to work for Metro Theater Company in 2004. In addition to taking Metro’s touring productions to hundreds of local and regional schools and community centers, Sarah has overseen Metro mainstage productions in St. Louis venues such as The Missouri History Museum (Afflicted: Daughters of Salem, Battledrum), Wydown Middle School (The Boy Who Loved Monsters and the Girl Who Loved Peas), Clayton High School (Interrupting Vanessa), the West County YMCA (Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse), COCA (Go, Dog. Go!) and Edison Theatre (Hana’s Suitcase, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Giver, Jackie and Me). During her summer-time hiatus from Metro, Sarah has worked for Opera Theatre St. Louis, and stage managed for Union Avenue Opera. Sarah thanks her husband, Adam, for his ongoing support in the form of food, presence and love.
Paige Seber (Lighting Designer) is happy to be returning to Metro after designing Afflicted: Daughters of Salem last season. Paige graduated from The Conservatory of Theatre Arts at Webster University in St. Louis last May with a BFA in Lighting Design and is now based out of New York City. Recent credits include assistant lighting design for Bridges of Madison County (1st National Tour) and Perfect Arrangement (off-Broadway premier); and lighting design for Big Love (Havana Theatre Festival). seberlighting.com
Rusty Wandall (Sound Designer) is excited to return to Metro for And In This Corner: Cassius Clay! He is currently Head of Sound Design at Webster University and the Resident Sound Designer at the Repertory Theater of St. Louis. He has also worked locally with Variety Children’s Theatre, Shakespeare Festival St. Louis, Opera Theatre St. Louis, HotCity Theatre, and Mustard Seed Theatre. He also serves as the Sound Designer and Engineer for the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival in Kansas City. Rusty holds a Master of Fine Arts Degree in Sound Design from the University of Missouri- Kansas City. He would like to thank God for his countless blessings and his wife Marian for her unending love and support.