Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Broadway Black
Broadway BlackBroadway Black

A Must See

Don’t Miss It: Pullman Porter Blues At The Goodman Theatre Starring Cleavant Derricks

Straight on the heels of the world premiere of Jungle Book, The Goodman Theatre in Chicago brings another must see, Cheryl L. West’s Pullman Porter Blues, with some of BroadwayBlack’s favorites. This blues filled and Chicago spirited musical follows three generations of African American Pullman porters in the 1930s in an updated production especially for the city of Pullman’s origin. It stars Broadway’s original James “Thunder” Early in Dreamgirls and Tony Award winner Cleavant Derricks as Sylvester Sykes, a second-generation railway porter, union organizer and father. Also, the original Sportin’ Life in Gershwins’ Porgy & Bess and Tony nominee Larry Marshall is among the cast as Monroe Sykes, the family patriarch. Just off of those two alone, you should see this show. However, it gets better!

Pullman Porter Blues

Newcomer Tosin Morohunfola portrays Cephas, the youngest Sykes son and med-school hopeful with an itch for adventure. The always phenomenal E. Faye Butler portrays Sister Juba, a tough-as-nails blues singer with a few secrets. Also, Claire Kander makes her Goodman Theatre debut in the role of Lutie, a stowaway. The musicians aboard the train include Jmichael (Keys) on piano, Anderson Edwards (Shorty) on bass, Chic Street Man (Professor Slick) on guitar and Senuwell Smith (Twist) on drums.

It’s June of 1937, and the Panama Limited Pullman Train is speeding from Chicago to New Orleans on the night of the Joe Louis/James Braddock world heavyweight championship. Three generations of Sykes men—African American train porters—wrestle with ghosts of the past and dreams for the future as they eagerly await word of the Brown Bomber’s victory. Set to timeless Blues tunes performed by a live, on-stage band, Pullman Porter Blues is a spirited, music-infused ride you won’t soon forget!

“I remember being enamored with the smiling Pullman porters on my first train ride. Little did I know about the horrific
working conditions they faced; and yet they persevered to become the first organized black labor union, a feat that cost
many of them their jobs and their lives,” said playwright Cheryl L. West. “I have the incredible opportunity to bring this play to
Chicago, my hometown, where so many Pullman porters lived. With the Sykes men as guides, audiences are invited to both
explore the dark world behind the porters’ smiles and to recapture that initial fascination with a long train journey.

Make sure to get your tickets ASAP! Show started previews this past Saturday (September 14) and runs thru October 20, 2013 In the Albert
Approximate running time: 2 hours and 40 minutes with one intermission

There is still time to get tickets for the special Blues & Brews night on September 19 at 6pm; an evening of food, music and fun before a performance of Pullman Porter Blues. Enjoy a pre-show beer tasting, light hors d’oeuvres and the tunes of live Blues classics. Then, hear E. Faye Butler (Sister Juba) talk about her role in the play. Tickets are $49

    for this event


Check out The Goodman Theatre for more information

Written By

Drew Shade is a theatre artist and enthusiast who fosters artistic diversity and excellence for the love of Black theatre artists. He is the Founder/Creative Director of Broadway Black, Off-Book Podcast & The Antonyo Awards. “Have a belief in yourself that is bigger than anyone’s disbelief.” – August Wilson


You May Also Like


Broadway actress and singer Zakiya Young is currently starring in DISGRACED by Ayad Akhtar and directed by Kimberly Senior at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago....

Across The Pond

The divas of Dreamgirls sashayed through Broadway in 1981 leaving an indelible impression with a string of megahits and outstanding acting; snatching six Tony...

A Must See

E. Faye Butler is a consummate performer who has graced stages throughout the country for decades. She is now starring in Vanya and Sonya...


Broadway Black was honored to speak with Regina Taylor about her new production, Stop. Reset., and the importance of legacy in this age of...