Support Local Journalism. Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

2/19: The Great White Hope opens at Karamu

Posted By on Thu, Feb 11, 2010 at 1:30 PM

A century ago, a fight promoter talked undefeated white heavyweight champ Jim Jeffries out of retirement to fight Jack Johnson, the first black heavyweight title winner. Karamu revives Howard Sackler’s The Great White Hope — the 1967 play about the hope and fear that surrounded the bout — with Anthony E. Nickerson-El as Johnson (renamed Jack Jefferson here), Peter Lawson Jones as his trainer Tick and Joseph Milan as the “great white hope,” known as Frank Brady in the play. Karamu artistic director Terrence Spivey says the racial tension surrounding Johnson was compounded because of his brash personality and the fact that he “dated a lot of white women.” “Frank Brady just wants to work on his farm and feed his goats,” says Spivey. “He doesn’t want to fight again. But they come out and talk about how this black man dates white women and how he has this big grin. They get him riled up.” Spivey says the large production — which includes more than 40 actors — is a technical challenge with its 1909 costumes, period sets and various locales (Karamu will deal with some of those issues with a multimedia presentation that creates the illusion of travel). Directing Jones is old hat to Spivey; this is the county commissioner’s third Karamu production. “He learns lines fast,” says Spivey. “He’s quite a committed craftsman.” The production — which is a cooperative venture among Karamu, Ensemble Theatre and Weathervane Playhouse — opens at 8 p.m. with performances through March 7 at Karamu (2355 E. 89th St., 216.795.7077). Tickets: $12-$24. — Michael Gill

Tags: , , , ,

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club for as little as $5 a month.

Read the Digital Print Issue

November 17, 2021

View more issues


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.


© 2021 Cleveland Scene: 737 Bolivar Rd., Suite 4100, Cleveland, OH 44115, (216) 505-8199
Logos and trademarks on this site are property of their respective owners.

Website powered by Foundation