Carole Shorenstein Hays, Anita Waxman and Elizabeth Williams are planning to bring Suzan-Lori Parks' brutal new American play, Topdog/Underdog, to Broadway by March 2002, Waxman told Playbill On-Line, confirming a published report.
Don Cheadle and Jeffrey Wright will play the sparring underclass hustler-siblings cursed with the names Lincoln and Booth, recreating their work from the play's premiere at The Public Theater earlier this year. George C. Wolfe, producer at The Public, will again direct.
Waxman told Playbill On-Line the producers hoped to bring the show uptown sooner, but because of the themes of violence in the work, they are waiting until spring 2002, by which time theatregoers will have had time to catch their breath following the national tragedy of Sept. 11. Waxman said they were seeking one of Broadway's more intimate houses. The Booth Theatre (named for Edwin Booth) had previously been mentioned.
"It's an astounding piece of theatre," Waxman said. "It's one of those shows where you're paralyzed the entire time. You don't want to move. You're hanging onto every word. The performances are astonishing. Sadly, it shows you a piece of life in America. It gives the viewers a taste of real life that probably goes on every day. The performances by Don and Jeffrey are extraordinary."
The Wolfe staging ended its extended summer at The Public Theater's Anspacher Theater Sept. 2. Previews began July 10 for an opening on July 26. The work was originally scheduled for March 2001, but pushed back to July, apparently to accommodate Cheadle's schedule. Cheadle's film credits include "Out of Sight" and "Traffic." He appeared in The Public Theater's 1989 production of Cymbeline. Wright won a Tony Award for his performance in Angels in America, also directed by Wolfe. He worked for the Public last summer, performing in Julius Caesar in Central Park.
Topdog was billed as a "darkly comic fable of brotherly love and family identity," a tale of two brothers, one named Lincoln, one named Booth. Their names "foretell a lifetime of sibling rivalry and resentment."
Parks' In the Blood (a Pulitzer Prize finalist) played the Public in 1999-2000, and her Fucking A will play at the theatre in winter 2002.
Topdog was Wolfe's first directing assignment since 1999-2000's The Wild Party. Topdog/Underdog designers were Riccardo Hernandez (scenic), Emilio Sosa (costumes), Scott Zielinski (lighting) and Dan Moses Schreier (sound).