Film star Don Cheadle and Tony winner Jeffrey Wright play brothers named Booth and Lincoln in Topdog/Underdog, the latest play by Suzan-Lori Parks. The off-beat comedy-drama has proved a popular summer offering at the Public Theatre, leading to negotiations for a possible Broadway move in the fall.
The play 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."
Directed by New York Shakespeare Festival/Public Theatre artistic director George C. Wolfe, Topdog/Underdog, at the Public Theater's Anspacher Theater, began previews July 10 and opened July 26. It's currently skedded to run through Sept. 2. Production spokesperson Carol Fineman confirmed (Aug. 13) that Broadway negotiations were underway and that there was "interest and the possibility" of an uptown move. A New York Times report (Aug. 10) cited the Royale Theatre as the show's Broadway target, but sources close to the Public Theatre are now pointing, aptly enough, at the Booth. (The latter theatre had been announced for the Roundabout's revival of Assassins, but that show will instead come to the Music Box.)
The play, which was originally scheduled for March, was 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." He appeared in The Public Theater's 1989 production of Cymbeline.
Wright won his Tony 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. Parks' In the Blood (a Pulitzer finalist) played the Public in 1999 2000, and her Fucking A will play at the theatre in winter 2002. She is currently working on Hoopz, Disney's in-development Harlem Globetrotter musical.
Topdog is Wolfe's first directing assignment since last season's The Wild Party. The play has a scenic design by Riccardo Hernandez, costume design by Emilio Sosa, lighting design by Scott Zielinski and sound design by Dan Moses Schreier. Tickets went on sale June 15. Call (212) 239-6200.
Another NYSF production, the all-star Central Park Seagull, is also eyeing Broadway for a fall perch, though that show (whose opener was rained out in the middle of its Aug. 12 first act) has yet to announce definitive plans as well.