San Diego Repertory Theatre presents:

‘Black Pearl Sings!’

An Intimate Play with Music

By Frank Higgins
Directed by Thomas W. Jones II

November 22 – December 17, 2017
(Press Opening: Wednesday, November 29, 2017)

SAN DIEGO – September 26, 2017 – San Diego Repertory Theatre (San Diego REP) has announced details for the fourth production of its 42nd season, “Black Pearl Sings!” This intimate play with music, from playwright Frank Higgins, will be helmed by Thomas W. Jones II. “Black Pearl Sings!” begins on Wednesday, November 22, 2017 and plays through Sunday, December 17, 2017 with an opening night on Wednesday, November 29, 2017 at 7 p.m. in the Lyceum Space Theatre at San Diego REP in Horton Plaza.

“There is nothing quite as powerful as American history told through American song,” says Artistic Director Sam Woodhouse. “The quest for freedom and heaven on earth fuels the music and the characters of this special play.”

Higgins’ transcendent tale about the power of music will star Minka Wiltz as the titular “Alberta ‘Pearl’ Johnson.” A new face for REP audiences, Wiltz has had a forceful career on the stages of Atlanta, including the Alliance Theater and the Atlanta Opera. Starring alongside Wiltz is San Diego favorite Allison Spratt Pearce as “Susannah.” Pearce was last seen in San Diego REP’s 2016 production of “Disgraced” and has performed at many of San Diego’s theatres.

Alberta “Pearl” Johnson has inherited from her African and American ancestors a soulful collection of rare folk songs. Stuck behind bars in a Texas prison for murder, her music is her lifeline to her family and future. Enter Susannah, an ambitious collector of songs for the Library of Congress. To advance her career, Susannah wants to record Pearl singing her extraordinary repertoire. Pearl sees Susannah as a possible escort to freedom. Their story is one of two women tied deeply together by their personal search for respect and love. Featuring over 20 distinctive songs, “Black Pearl Sings!” is a transcendent tale about the bridges that can be built through the power of song.

The creative team includes S. Renee Clark (Music Direction), Sean Fanning (Scenic Design), Sherrice Mojgani (Lighting Design), Mary Larson (Costume Design), Matthew Lescault-Wood (Sound Design), Victoria Petrovich (Projection Design), Shelley Orr (Dramaturgy), Nicole McEntee (Assistant Direction) and Chandra R.M. Anthenill (Production Stage Management).

Frank Higgins (Playwright) is the author of the plays “Black Pearl Sings!” and “The Sweet By ‘n’ By,” the latter produced with Blythe Danner and Gwyneth Paltrow. His play “The Taste Test” opened the 2015/2016 season for Black Theatre Troupe in Phoenix. His work has been seen in New York and across the country at the Williamstown Theater Festival, the Old Globe Theatre, Ford’s Theater in Washington DC, Northlight Theatre in Chicago, San Jose Repertory Theatre, Kansas City Repertory Theater, Virginia Stage Company, the Barter Theater and other places. His plays have been published by Dramatists Play Service, Samuel French, Dramatic Publishing Company and Pioneer Drama Service. His one act play “The True Death of Socrates” is included in Best American Short Plays of 2013, published by Applause Books, and “Black Pearl Sings!” is anthologized in the Random House/Vintage anthology “Plays For Two.” Scenes from his play “Gunplay” were read on Capitol Hill prior to Congress passing what came to be known as the Brady Bill. He has also written several plays for young audiences, including “Anansi the Spider” and “The Middle Passage” and “The Country of the Blind.” He has also published two books of poetry, and two books of haiku.

Thomas W. Jones II (Director) is a director and playwright based out of Virginia. He is an Artistic Associate at MetroStage where many of his original musicals have premiered. Since 2001, he has written and directed “Harlem Rose,” “Three Sistahs,” “Two Queens One Castle,” “Bricktop,” “Cool Papa's Party,” “Pearl request,” “Ladies Swing the Blues,” “Bessie's Blues,” “Shake Loose,” “Blackberry Daze” and, most recently, “The Gin Game.” He received a Helen Hayes nomination for Outstanding Direction for MetroStage's production of “Gee's Bend.” He has directed, written and performed in more than 200 plays worldwide. In 1978, Tom founded Jomandi Productions, where, as Co-Artistic Director and Producing Director, he led Jomandi to become the third largest African-American theatre company in the United States. His work as writer, director and actor has been acclaimed nationally and internationally, receiving 42 Helen Hayes Award nominations and winning 12, including Best Director for Samm Art Williams' “Home” and his own “Bessie's Blues” (1991 production). He has also received 3 New York Audelco Award nominations, the Dramalogue Award, the San Diego Critics Award, NAACP Phoenix Award, among others. He directed Janet Langhart Cohen's “Anne & Emmett” in 2015 at MetroStage followed by a tri-city tour. His production company has launched the New Renaissance Project producing, among others, a national tour of “Cool Papa's Party” and “A Night in the Musical Life of Frankie Lyman.”

“Black Pearl Sings!”
By Frank Higgins

Directed by Thomas W. Jones II

Previews: Wednesday, November 22 – Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Opening Night: Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Closing Night: Sunday, December 17, 2017


Minka Wiltz as “Albert ‘Pearl’ Johnson”
Allison Spratt Pearce as “Susannah”

Production Team:

Thomas W. Jones II, Director
S. Renee Clark, Music Director

Sean Fanning, Scenic Designer

Sherrice Mojgani, Lighting Designer

Mary Larson, Costume Designer

Matthew Lescault-Wood, Sound Designer
Victoria Petrovich, Projection Designer

Shelley Orr, Dramaturg

Nicole McEntee, Assistant Director

Chandra R.M. Anthenill, Production Stage Manager

Performance Schedule:


·         Wednesday, November 22 at 7 p.m.

·         Friday, November 24 at 8 p.m.

·         Saturday, November 25 at 8 p.m.

·         Sunday, November 26 at 7 p.m.

·         Tuesday, November 28 at 7 p.m.

Opening Night:

·         Wednesday, November 29 at 7 p.m.


Regular Performances:

·         Thursday, November 30 at 8 p.m.

·         Friday, December 1 at 8 p.m.

·         Saturday, December 2 at 8 p.m.

·         Sunday, December 3 at 2 p.m.

·         Sunday, December 3 at 7 p.m.

·         Wednesday, December 6 at 7 p.m.

·         Thursday, December 7 at 8 p.m.

·         Friday, December 8 at 8 p.m.

·         Saturday, December 9 at 2 p.m.

·         Saturday, December 9 at 8 p.m.

·         Sunday, December 10 at 2 p.m.

·         Tuesday, December 12 at 7 p.m.

·         Wednesday, December 13 at 7 p.m.

·         Thursday, December 14 at 8 p.m.

·         Friday, December 15 at 8 p.m.

·         Saturday, December 16 at 2 p.m.

·         Saturday, December 16 at 8 p.m.

Closing Night:

·         Sunday, December 17, 2017 at 2 p.m.

Ticket Information

Tickets start at $25 and can be purchased in-person at the San Diego REP Box Office, by calling 619.544.1000 or online at Active military, teacher and senior discounts are available. Student tickets are available for all performances for just $20 each. Prices and dates subject to change.


Lyceum Space

San Diego Repertory Theatre

79 Horton Plaza

San Diego, CA 92101-6144


Parking is available in the Horton Plaza parking garage for $8 with validation. Enter the garage from 4th Ave just South of the Balboa Theatre. Follow entrance lanes, then turn right & continue to the 3rd level to park. Horton Plaza Parking Tickets (issued from machines at entry) may be validated in the Lyceum Theatres Lobby during your show. Validation will allow patrons to pay flat $8 rate.

Please note: if you do not validate your ticket at the theatre, Westfield Horton Plaza Parking is free for the first hour only. After this time, the current rate charged at exit is $2.00 for every 15 minutes (daily maximum charge = $48.00). Westfield Horton Plaza Parking Garage rates are subject to change at any time. For any additional ABM Parking information, contact ABM Parking at 619.233.1491

About San Diego Repertory Theatre

San Diego Repertory Theatre (San Diego REP) produces intimate, exotic, provocative theatre. Founded in 1976, San Diego Repertory Theatre is downtown San Diego’s resident theatre, promoting a more inclusive community through work that nourishes progressive political and social values and celebrates the multiple voices of our region. The company produces and hosts over 550 events and performances year-round on its three stages at the Lyceum Theatre. Since moving to the Lyceum, The REP has produced 45 main stage productions by Latino playwrights, and more than 40 world premieres. The company has received more than 200 awards for artistic excellence from the San Diego Theatre Critics Circle, Patté Theatre Awards, NAACP, Backstage West, Dramalogue and StageSceneLA. In 2005, the San Diego Theatre Critics Circle presented The REP with the Craig Noel Award “For 30 Years of Artistic Dedication to Downtown and Diversity.” San Diego Repertory Theatre feeds the curious soul. To learn more about San Diego Repertory Theatre, to purchase tickets, or make a donation, visit Join us on Facebook ( and follow us on Twitter (@SanDiegoREP). 


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