Most of the cast is engaging and up to the task, including the masterful Robinson and the world-weary McKnight, but Russell falls short dramatically and Johnson is awkwardly wooden. The production – including Shaun Motley's well-worn set and Dana Rebecca Woods' great period costuming – is spot-on. Director Ron OJ Parson keeps things moving briskly, but the choice of period music between scenes engenders a party atmosphere that doesn't necessarily mesh with the dramatic scenes to come.
Overall, the show plays like an episode of a Norman Lear sitcom of the same era, and – judging by the enthusiastic laughter from the audience on opening night – maybe it achieves that goal.
Jitney plays Tuesday through Sunday through July 15 at the Pasadena Playhouse, 39 South El Molino Avenue. Reservations can be made online or by calling (626) 355-7539.