Pulitzer Prize-Winning Topdog/Underdog Ends Bway Run Aug. 11

News   Pulitzer Prize-Winning Topdog/Underdog Ends Bway Run Aug. 11 Broadway's Pulitzer Prize-winning drama, Topdog/Underdog, will end its run on Aug. 11 — the announced final date of its recent extension.
Mos Def in Topdog/Underdog.
Mos Def in Topdog/Underdog. (Photo by Photo by Michal Daniel)

Broadway's Pulitzer Prize-winning drama, Topdog/Underdog, will end its run on Aug. 11 — the announced final date of its recent extension.

The limited-run production was originally to end July 28 at the Ambassador Theatre, but business warranted an extension through Aug. 11. There was talk that the show might continue to Labor Day, but a further extension did not materialize. A national tour is in the works for 2003, with San Francisco announced as a destination, but no further details, dates or cast have been announced.

Suzan-Lori Parks' play opened on Broadway April 7, after previews from March 12. Topdog/Underdog will have played 31 previews and 145 regular performances. George C. Wolfe directs.

In the darkly comic work, Jeffrey Wright and rapper Mos Def star as the warring siblings. The brothers were named Lincoln and Booth by their father as a joke. Lincoln (played by Wright) spends his days as a white-face impersonator of the 16th president, while Booth (Mos Def) shoplifts suits and expensive champagne. The brothers are haunted by the past and their obsession with the street con-game, three-card monte. The two strive for a family unity they have never had, but end up battling to the death.

The production originated in 2001 at The Public Theater, where Wolfe is producer, with Wright and Don Cheadle. The latter actor was not available for Broadway, and Mos Def stepped into the Broadway limelight, earning him awards. The producers are Carole Shorenstein Hays, Waxman Williams Entertainment, Bob Boyett, Freddy DeMann, Susan Dietz/Ina Meibach, Scott E. Nederlander and Ira Pittelman, in association with Hits Magazine, Kelpie Arts, and Rick Steiner/Frederic H. Mayerson.

Upon winning the Pulitzer, Parks told Playbill On-Line: "It feels more important to me because, while it's a first for African American women playwrights, it's also to me more about American theatre. I sit in the theatre [every night] and see all the different ethnic groups and faces and the ranges of people who come to watch the play and enjoy the play, and who afterwards rush up to me to tell me. This is important to American theatre—that we can get together across racial, ethnic and age lines and we can enjoy an evening of theatre. That's important to me."

The production was nominated for two 2002 Tony Awards: Best Play and Best Actor in a Play (Jeffrey Wright). The Outer Critics Circle presented Suzan-Lori Parks with the John Gassner Playwriting Award, and they also gave Mos Def and Jeffrey Wright a Special Achievement Award. The staging also earned two Obie Awards (Jeffrey Wright and George C. Wolfe), two Drama Desk nominations for Best Play and Best Actor in a Play (Jeffrey Wright) and a Theatre World Award (Mos Def).

Tickets range $15-$75. The Ambassador is at 219 W. 49th St. For tickets, call Telecharge at (212) 239-6200.