Broadway Premiere of Top Girls Ends June 29

By Kenneth Jones
29 Jun 2008

Elizabeth Marvel, Marisa Tomei, Mary Catherine Garrison and Martha Plimpton.
Elizabeth Marvel, Marisa Tomei, Mary Catherine Garrison and Martha Plimpton.
Photo by Joan Marcus

Caryl Churchill's Top Girls — the unique portrait of the modern woman, and what's left behind on a ladder-climb to success — ends its limited engagement at Broadway's Biltmore Theatre June 29.

Critically embraced, the James Macdonald-directed staging earned one 2008 Tony Award nomination for Best Featured Actress in a Play, for Martha Plimpton. The production opened May 7 after previews from April 15. By close, it will have played 24 previews and 63 regular performances. Manhattan Theatre Club produced.

Macdonald (Off-Broadway's A Number, Drunk Enough to Say I Love You?) directed a starry cast in the Broadway premiere of the modern classic involving the Top Girls Employment Agency in London in the early 1980s. Marlene (played by three-time Obie Award winner Elizabeth Marvel) has just been appointed head of the firm.

MTC asks, "But as this ambitious career woman celebrates her achievements, can we applaud her values? This bold and ingenious work from the singularly talented author of Far Away and Cloud Nine offers one of the theatre's most honest portraits of what it means to be a woman in the modern world."

The three-act play is also set in a London restaurant, a backyard and a kitchen.



The cast also included Mary Beth Hurt (as Louise/Waitress), Mary Catherine Garrison (as Patient Griselda/Jeanine/Kit/Shona), Drama Desk Award winner Martha Plimpton (as Pope Joan/Angie), Academy Award winner Marisa Tomei (as Isabella Bird/Joyce/Mrs. Kidd), Jennifer Ikeda (as Lady Nijo/Win) and Ana Reeder (as Dull/Gret/Nell).

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Three-time Tony Award nominee Hurt told Playbill.com columnist Michael Buckley, "I don't know that Caryl Churchill would agree, but, it seems to me, the play's kind of a rumination on choices women have to make throughout the ages — not choices that are thrust on them by men, but choices that involve ideology. …The structure is non-linear. There's a dreamlike opening sequence in which Marlene meets famous women [factual and fictional] from the past."

To view the Playbill.com Stage to Screens column featuring Hurt, click here.

The creative team for Top Girls includes Tom Pye (scenic design), Laura Bauer (costume design), Christopher Akerlind (lighting design), Darron L. West (sound design), Matthew Herbert (original music) and Elizabeth Smith (dialect consultant). Hair/wig design is by Paul Huntley. Martha Donaldson is production stage manager. Amy McCraney is stage manager.

Mary Beth Hurt has been seen on Broadway in The Secret Rapture, Benefactors (Tony nomination), Crimes of the Heart (Obie Award and Tony nomination), The Misanthrope and Trelawney of the Wells (Tony nomination); Jennifer Ikeda was seen in Broadway's Seascape; Reeder appeared in "No Country For Old Men" and Broadway's Sight Unseen; Tomei won the Academy Award for My Cousin Vinny and appeared on Broadway in Wait Until Dark and Off-Broadway in Oh, the Humanity…; Plimpton recently starred in Lincoln Center Theater's Cymbeline, and is a vet of MTC's Shining City and LCT's The Coast of Utopia; Garrison played the frisky sister in MTC's Rabbit Hole and was one of Roundabout Theatre Company's Assassins; Marvel's resume includes the Broadway revival of Edward Albee's Seascape and the title role in the controversial New York Theater Workshop's Hedda Gabler.

Visit www.manhattantheatreclub.com.

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Top Girls was first performed at the Royal Court Theatre, London, on Aug. 28, 1982 and transferred to The Public Theater in New York City on Dec. 29, 1982. It played 40 performances and reopened at The Public in March 1983 with an American cast, playing 89 performances. Top Girls won the 1983 Obie Award for Playwriting and Ensemble.