American Players Theatre Presents THE ROYALE Review – An Emotional Punch

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As we enter the Touchstone, a maroon punching bag hangs from the ceiling above the stage with a single spotlight illuminating it. It sways in front of a simple set of a raised wooden platform and above a worn wooden floor. It feels like we’re entering a gym or a training ring and our only focus is the sport. Here begins theThe Royale, a story that has its heart beating for boxing. 

American Players Plays with Rhythm

That wooden stage becomes one of the sources of sound for The Royale. As the lights dim and the actors make their first appearance, they stomp their feet against the floor to create a rhythmic beat. They add their hands lightly hitting their bodies to add another layer. They take their positions, two fighters ready for the match. One actor sits to the side as a spectator and keeps the beat as the two spar. 

They continue this rhythm in other ways. As Jay (Jamal James) stands tall in front of a microphone, Fish (Jaylon Muchison) and Wynton (Reginald André Jackson) practice behind him; the rhythmic punches providing a background beat as he answers press questions. Wynton gives direction seemingly to Fish, correcting his stance, smile, head-up, stay calm. Soon, we realize those directions are for Jay as he does press interviews, coaching him on how to present himself in front of the whole world.

Though it’s not a traditional soundtrack with instruments or other orchestrations that tell us what we should feel in each moment, this underlying beat still aids in affecting our mood and building suspense within us. 

Pacing That Leads to a Slow Unraveling

Jay pushes on to fight the retired heavy-weight world champion, who also happens to be white.  This match causes a stir across the globe. The once always smiling, always positive Jay starts smiling less as the worries and anxieties of this fight start to sink in. 

It’s the 1910s and even being the best doesn’t mean you are,-- because you’re Black. We start seeing all the socio-political dynamics during this time and they unfold naturally one moment into the next. 

Clocking in at around ninety minutes, The Royale doesn’t let you out of its world for a second. It seems like a simple story at the start, a great fighter wants to fight the best to prove he’s the best.  But it’s much more….

For those who enjoy historical plays and ones that may be on the heavier emotional side, The Royale would be a good fit for you. 


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Jay Jamal James
Wynton Reginald André Jackson
Nina Dee Dee Batteast
Fish Jaylon Muchison
Max Brian Mani


DirectorTyrone Phillips
Voice & Text Coach Amani Dorn
Assistant Director Danielle Davis
Costume Design Yvonne L. Miranda
Scenic Design Alyssa Moon Thompson
Lighting Design Robert Perry
Sound Design & Original Music Willow James
Movement by Jeb Burris, Rasell Holt, Tyrone Phillips
Assistant Costume Designer Maegan Pate
Scenic Consultant Romello Huins
Stage Management Assistant Jalon Payton
Stage Manager Alexa Burn


Now through September 27, 2023

Performance schedule varies; please see website for details.


The Touchstone Theater
5950 Golf Course Road
Spring Green, WI 53588



Tickets can be purchased through the American Players Theatre website

Photos by Liz Lauren


Note: Picture This Post reviews are excerpted by Theatre in Chicago.

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Alexis Bugajski

About the Author: Alexis Bugajski

Alexis is a theater reviewer, travel bug, media specialist, and burger & beer enthusiast. During the day she works in the advertising business as a senior communications designer. When night falls, or when she can escape to New York, she’s hitting the theaters to see as many shows as she can. And whenever she’s not at her desk or in the audience, she’s out seeking the best burger and beer offerings in Chicago.

Editor's Note:  Click here to read more Picture this Post articles by Alexis Bugajski

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