Film star Don Cheadle will play one of the lead roles in Topdog/Underdog, the latest play by Suzan-Lori Parks, due to premiere at the Public Theater's Anspacher Theater, the New York Times reported. George C. Wolfe will direct. Jeffrey Wright is also in the cast.
The play, which was scheduled for March, has been pushed back to July, apparently to accommodate Cheadle's schedule, according to the New York Times. Cheadle film credits include "Out of Sight" and "Traffic."
No official announcement about the play has been made by the Public Theater.
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.
In other Public news, Kristine Nielsen, a crazed matriarch in Betty's Summer Vacation and a jailed princess in The Green Bird, has joined the cast of References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot, the Jose Rivera play set to begin previews March 20 at the Public Theater's Shiva Theater.
Already announced for the play are Rosie Perez and John Ortiz. Completing the cast will be Carlo Alban, Kevin Jackson and Michael Lombard. Jo Bonney directs.
Rosie Perez was first noticed for her volatile portrayal of Spike Lee's girlfriend in the director's "Do the Right Thing." She went on to star in "White Men Can't Jump" and "Fearless." On stage, she's acted in the New York and L.A. productions of The Vagina Monologues.
Ortiz is enjoying a big season. His star turn in the Off-Broadway success Jesus Hopped the A Train was highly acclaimed. He is also well versed in the work of Rivera, having appeared in the playwright's Cloud Tectonics at Playwrights Horizons.
Dali was presented by South Coast Rep in California in January 2000. The play 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.
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.
Jessica Hagedorn's Dogeaters, based on her novel of the same name, which explores life in the Philippines in the 1980s, recently began previews at the Public Theater. This New York premiere, directed by Michael Greif (Rent), mixes "tales of politicians, hustlers, beauty queens and radicals...from the excesses of Imelda Marcos to the horrors of assassination." The run is through March 18.
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.