This piece, in a much earlier version, was August Wilson's first full-length play. But in 1996 he decided to revise it into the seventh play in his celebrated 10-play series set in Pittsburgh and marking the 10 decades of the 20th century. Director Ron OJ Parson has given it a sterling production, rich in mood and passionately executed. Becker (Charlie Robinson) is the proprietor of a gypsy cab service in the Hill section of Pittsburgh, where regular cabs won't go. But he and his colorful roster of drivers are in danger of losing their livelihood, due to the forces of urban renewal intent on tearing down the old neighborhood. Becker also is coping with his son Booster's (Montae Russell) release from prison after a 20-year murder sentence. Becker's drivers include the bossy, nosy, pistol-packing Turnbo (a gloriously funny Ellis S. Williams); hard-drinking Fielding (David McKnight), who's convinced his wife still loves him, even if he hasn't seen her for 22 years; and Youngblood (Larry Bates), who's just made a down payment on a house for his wife (Kristy Johnson) when he learns his job is in jeopardy. The performances are terrific. Set designer Shaun Motley provides the shabby, lived-in office of the car service and Vincent Olivieri's sound design provides eloquent musical punctuation. South Coast Repertory at Pasadena Playhouse, 39 S. El Molino Ave., Pasadena; Tues.-Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 4 & 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 & 7 p.m.; through July 15. (626) 356-7529, PasadenaPlayhouse.org.
Sun., June 24, 5 p.m.; Tuesdays-Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 4 & 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 & 7 p.m. Starts: June 24. Continues through July 15, 2012