Wolfe to Direct Wright in Parks' Topdog/Underdog at Public in March

News   Wolfe to Direct Wright in Parks' Topdog/Underdog at Public in March George C. Wolfe will direct Jeffrey Wright in Topdog/Underdog, the latest play by Suzan-Lori Parks, due to premiere at the Public Theater's Anspacher Theater in March 2001.

George C. Wolfe will direct Jeffrey Wright in Topdog/Underdog, the latest play by Suzan-Lori Parks, due to premiere at the Public Theater's Anspacher Theater in March 2001.

Topdog is described 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 finalist) played the Public in 1999 2000.

Topdog will be Wolfe's first directing assignment since last season's The Wild Party. Wright, who was directed by Wolfe in Angels in America, appeared in Central Park last summer as Brutus in Julius Caesar.

Topdog is a two-character play. The other role has not been cast. *

In other news, Loretta Greco, who piloted Two Sisters and a Piano at the Public last season, will direct Ruben Santiago-Hudson’s Lackawanna Blues at the same theatre. The drama will star Tony winning Santiago-Hudson and begin previews April 6 at LuEsther Hall.

Lackawanna Blues completes the Public's 2000-01 roster.

Santiago-Hudson won his Tony for August Wilson's Seven Guitars, in which he played a gentle and comical philosopher-musician. He has, however, rarely been seen on the New York stage since. His play takes place in 1956 in Lackawanna, New York and centers on Miss Rachel's boarding house, a gathering spot for "would-be philosophers, petty hustlers, lost souls, and abandoned lovers." Original music will be composed and performed live by guitarist Bill Sims.

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In other Public Theatre news, rising film actor Hill Harper will be featured in the cast of playwright Jessica Hagedorn's Dogeaters, set to run at the Public Theater's Martinson Hall in February 2001. The play is based on her novel of the same name, and explores life in the Philippines in the 1980s, mixing "tales of politicians, hustlers, beauty queens and radicals...from the excesses of Imelda Marcos to the horrors of assassination." Michael Grief directs.

Harper is currently winning good notices for his performance in the film "The Visit," a prison drama starring Rae Dawn Chong, Phylicia Rashad, Billy Dee Williams and Talia Shire. Harper's other credits include "Beloved" and "He Got Game."

Also in the cast of Dogeaters is Joel Torre, a Filipino film star whose credits include "Jose Rizal," "Milagros" and "Eskapo."

Grief is best known for directing Jonathan Larson's hit musical Rent.

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The Public Theater/New York Shakespeare Festival's 2000-2001 season has already featured John Moran's Book of the Dead and David Grimm's Kit Marlowe. Still to come are:

• Jessica Hagedorn's Dogeaters, based on her novel of the same name, explores life in the Philippines in the 1980s. This New York premiere, directed by Michael Greif (Rent), will play the Anspacher Theater and mix "tales of politicians, hustlers, beauty queens and radicals...from the excesses of Imelda Marcos to the horrors of assassination." Runs Feb. 13-March 18, at Martinson Hall.

Topdog/Underdog by Suzan-Lori Parks, directed by George C. Wolfe, starring Jeffrey Wright. To play the Anspacher Theater in March 2001.

• Film actress Rosie Perez and John Ortiz will star in Jose Rivera's play, References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot at the Public Theater in April 2001. The New York premiere drama, which will be directed by Jo Bonney, will play in the Shiva Theater. Dali was presented by South Coast Rep in California in January 2000. Dali is set in the desert of Barstow, California, where Gabriela, the wife of career soldier Benito, dives into a surreal fantasy world during her husband's prolonged absences, and imagines the mating rituals between a coyote and a cat. The fantastical plotline is not surprising to anyone familiar with the magic realism of such Rivera works as Cloud Tectonics and Sueno. The latter played Off-Broadway's MCC Theatre last season.