Preview: Toni Stone Takes the Stage at the Milwaukee Rep

This show – and the story it tells – defies expectations.

How do you become the first woman to play full-time in a men’s pro baseball league – and do it as a Black woman in an America still in the grips of Jim Crow? With an utter lack of fear and with a “blinding faith” in oneself, says Tinashe Kajese-Bolden, director of the Milwaukee Rep’s eponymous production of Toni Stone.

The memory play, which premiered o -Broadway in 2019 and was named best new play by The Wall Street Journal, follows Stone’s trailblazing 1953 season for the Negro American League’s Indianapolis Clowns.

“Whether you love baseball or not, we recognize a love story about doing what you want to do,” says Kajese- Bolden, who is making her Rep directorial debut.

While its director describes it as “joyful,” Toni Stone doesn’t hide from challenges Stone faced before the dawn of
the civil rights movement. Rather, it embraces a resilient woman who “shrugged o the naysayers and held out for her place of belonging,” says Kajese-Bolden, who weaves together the athletic choreog- raphy, creative use of props (a baseball bat becomes a cello) and rich storytelling.

Toni Stone runs Jan. 4-30 at the Quadracci Powerhouse Theater.


This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine‘s January issue.

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Ann Christenson has covered dining for Milwaukee Magazine since 1997. She was raised on a diet of casseroles that started with a pound of ground beef and a can of Campbell's soup. Feel free to share any casserole recipes with her.