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TONY AWARD WINNER BILLY PORTER DIRECTS "TOPDOG/UNDERDOG" AT THE HUNTINGTON BEGINNING MARCH 10

HUNTINGTON PRESENTS EXPLOSIVE PULITZER PRIZE WINNER TOPDOG/UNDERDOG BY SUZAN-LORI PARKS AND DIRECTED BY TONY AWARD WINNER BILLY PORTER, BEGINNING FRIDAY, MARCH 10

(BOSTON) – The Huntington Theatre Company presents the explosive Pulitzer Prize winner Topdog/Underdog by Suzan-Lori Parks and directed by Tony, Grammy, and Drama Desk Award winner Billy Porter (The Colored Museum at the Huntington and Lola in Kinky Boots on Broadway). Performances run March 10 – April 9, 2017 at the Avenue of the Arts / BU Theatre.

Topdog/Underdog is a darkly comic, deeply theatrical fable about family wounds and healing bonds. Lincoln and Booth are brothers: best friends and bitter rivals. Lincoln, a former 3-card monte hustler, works as a Lincoln impersonator in a shooting gallery; Booth is an aspiring grifter. He tempts his brother to get back in the game, but the consequences could be deadly.

Suzan-Lori Parks made history as the first African American woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2002 with Topdog/Underdog. Additionally, she is named among Time magazine’s “100 Innovators for the Next Wave” and is also the recipient of two Obie Awards and a MacArthur “Genius” Grant.

“Billy Porter directed a sizzling remount of George C. Wolfe’s The Colored Museum in 2015, and I am delighted to welcome him back this spring to direct a major revival of a play that electrified Broadway audiences nearly 15 years ago: Topdog/Underdog,” says Artistic Director Peter DuBois. “Exploring Suzan-Lori Parks’ dynamic Pulitzer Prize-winning play in 2017 will be extremely timely and impactful. Billy, a triple threat Tony Award winner, has proven that he is a man of boundless talent, and bringing these two brilliant American theatre artists together is a dream.” The South Shore Critic called The Colored Museum, “Outrageously well directed and outrageously well performed.”

“I am over the moon about returning to the Huntington with such an important work,” says director Billy Porter. “I am humbled that both Peter DuBois and Suzan-Lori Parks have entrusted me to interpret this material for a new generation. I promise to make you proud!”

The New York Times says Topdog/Underdog is a “thrilling comic drama. Dazzlingly written,” and The OC Register says, “Parks owns a unique and powerful American voice and an uncanny ability to draw universal truths from eccentric characters and circumstances.”

ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Matthew J. Harris (Booth) recently appeared in Kirsten Greenidge’s Milk Like Sugar at the Huntington. He has regional credits that include In the Heights (Walnut Street Theatre), A Comedy of Errors (Theater at Monmouth), and Twelfth Night (Shakesperience Productions, Inc.). Some of his New York credits include A Midsummer Night’s Dream (The Classical Theatre of Harlem), Macbeth (Pulse Ensemble Theatre), She Calls Me Firefly (New Perspectives Theatre), and Trouble (New York Musical Theatre Festival). His television credits include “Blindspot” and “Person of Interest.” He can also be heard and seen in commercials for Coke Zero, Verizon, Zaxby’s, Footlocker, Bounty, and more. Mr. Harris is also a hip-hop dancer, teacher, and choreographer at Man in Motion. maninmotionnyc.com. matthewjharris.net.

Tyrone Mitchell Henderson (Lincoln) previously appeared in Blues for an Alabama Sky at the Huntington. He has also appeared in Bring in ‘da Noise, Bring in ‘da Funk on Broadway. His Off-Broadway credits include Rancho Viejo (Playwrights Horizons), The America Play, Two Noble Kinsmen, and The Tempest (The Public Theater/NYSF), The Piano Lesson (Signature Theatre), and The Public Sings (New York City Center). His regional credits include Aubergine and Intelligent Homosexuals Guide… (Berkeley Repertory Theatre), WAR, The Winter’s Tale, and The Piano Lesson (Yale Repertory Theatre), Jitney (Actors Theatre of Louisville), Radio Golf (Milwaukee Repertory Theater), Romeo & Juliet, Antony and Cleopatra, and Julius Caesar (Shakespeare Theatre Company), and Angels in America (Alliance Theatre and Dallas Theatre Center). His television credits include “Elementary,” “House of Cards,” “Orange is the New Black,” “Unforgettable,” “Boardwalk Empire,” “The Following,” “Suits,” and “Law and Order.” He is the recipient of the Dallas Theater Critics Award (Leon Rabin) for Featured Actor in Angels in America. Mr. Henderson is the founder of Quick Silver Theater Company. QuickSilverTheater.com. TyroneMitchellHenderson.com.

Suzan-Lori Parks (Playwright) is one of the most acclaimed playwrights in American drama today. She is the first African American woman to receive the Pulitzer Prize in Drama, is a MacArthur “Genius” Award recipient, was awarded the prestigious Gish Prize for Excellence in the Arts, and was named one of Time magazine’s “100 Innovators for the Next Wave.” Her project 365 Days/365 Plays (where she wrote a play a day for an entire year) was produced in over 700 theatres worldwide, creating one of the largest grassroots collaborations in theatre history. Her other plays include Topdog/Underdog (2002 Pulitzer Prize winner), The Book of Grace, Unchain My Heart: The Ray Charles Musical, In the Blood (2000 Pulitzer Prize finalist), Venus (1996 Obie Award), The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World, Imperceptible Mutabilities in the Third Kingdom (1990 Obie Award, Best New American Play), The America Play, and Fucking A. Her adaptation of The Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess won the 2012 Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical. Her newest plays, Father Comes Home from the Wars (Parts 1, 2 & 3) – set during the Civil War – was awarded the Horton Foote Prize, the Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama, and was a 2015 Pulitzer Prize Finalist. Ms. Parks has written numerous screenplays including Girl 6 for Spike Lee, and she adapted Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God for ABC Television’s “Oprah Winfrey Presents.” She is currently developing an original series for Amazon. Her first novel, Getting Mother’s Body (Random House, 2003), also contains songs and is set in the West Texas of her youth. Ms. Parks recently performed Watch Me Work, a free, weekly, live-streamed, writing workshop, open to artists of all disciplines. Her plays are published by Theatre Communications Group (TCG), Samuel French, and Dramatists Play Service. She is also at work on a stage-musical adaptation of the film The Harder They Come, and a new musical project in collaboration with Timbaland and Harmony Samuels. She is the Residency One playwright at Signature Theatre for their 2016-2017 season and her band Sula & The Noise is also in residence. Ms. Parks teaches at New York University, and serves at The Public Theater as its Master Writer Chair. She is an alumna of New Dramatists and of Mount Holyoke College. 

Billy Porter (Director) returns to the Huntington having previously directed The Colored Museum. He is the 2013 Tony, Grammy, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle Award winner for Best Actor in a Musical for his portrayal of Lola in the Tony Award-winning Best Musical Kinky Boots. He was recently seen on Broadway in Shuffle Along, or, the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed. Mr. Porter’s one-man show Ghetto Superstar (2005 GLAAD Media Award nomination, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Performer of the Year 2003–2004) debuted at The Public Theater in conjunction with City Theatre of Pittsburgh. His other directing credits include CompanyHAM: A Musical Memoir with Sam Harris; The WizBeing Alive: The Soul of SondheimTwilight in ManchegoOnce on This Island (NAACP Theatre Award winner for Best Direction); The Soul of Richard RodgersFive Guys Named MoeAltar BoyzRent (Associate Director, Off Broadway revival); Patina Miller Live at The Delfonte Room (London); and Signed, Sealed, Delivered: The Music of Stevie Wonder (starring Chaka Khan). His Broadway album, Billy’s Back on Broadway (Concord Records) was released in 2014. His single Edelweiss: #blessourhomeland was released on Inauguration day and the full album, Billy Porter Presents the Soul of Richard Rodgers will be released in April of 2017. Some of his film and television work includes The Broken Hearts Club, The Humbling, Billy Porter: Broadway & Soul (PBS), “Law & Order,” and “The Get Down.” As a playwright, Mr. Porter was represented Off Broadway in 2014 with the premiere of While I Yet Live starring S. Epatha Merkerson (Primary Stages). A Pittsburgh native, he received his BFA in drama from Carnegie Mellon University. He is also a graduate of UCLA’s professional program in screenwriting.

Topdog/Underdog features scenic and costume design by Clint Ramos (The Colored Museum and A Raisin in the Sun at the Huntington and In Transit on Broadway); lighting design by Driscoll Otto (The Colored Museum at the Huntington); sound design by Leon Rothenberg (Choice at the Huntington and Violet on Broadway); and casting direction by Alaine Alldaffer (Grey Gardens, Clybourne Park, and Circle Mirror Transformation at Playwrights Horizons). Production stage manager is Emily F. McMullen and stage manager is Kevin Schlagle.

The Huntington’s 2016-2017 Season is sponsored through the generosity of Carol G. Deane, Sheryl and Gerard Cohen, and J. David Wimberly.

ABOUT THE HUNTINGTON THEATRE COMPANY
Celebrating its 35th season, the Huntington Theatre Company is Boston’s leading professional theatre and one of the region’s premier cultural assets since its founding in 1982. Recipient of the 2013 Regional Theatre Tony Award, the Huntington brings together superb local and national talent and produces a mix of groundbreaking new works and classics made current to create award-winning productions. The Huntington runs nationally renowned programs in education and new play development and serves the local theatre community through its operation of the Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA. The Huntington has long been an anchor cultural institution of Huntington Avenue, the Avenue of the Arts, and will remain so on a permanent basis with plans to convert our current theatre into a first-rate, modern venue with expanded services to audiences, artists, and the community. Under the direction of Artistic Director Peter DuBois and Managing Director Michael Maso, the Huntington cultivates, celebrates, and champions theatre as an art form. For more information, visit huntingtontheatre.org

PHOTO DOWNLOAD INSTRUCTIONS
To download high-resolution (or smaller) photos of Topdog/Underdog:

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PRODUCTION INFORMATION AND CALENDAR
WHEN

March 10 – April 9, 2017
               Select Evenings: Tues. – Thurs. at 7:30pm; Fri. – Sat. at 8pm; select Sun. at 7pm
               Matinees: Select Wed., Sat., and Sun. at 2pm
               Days and times vary; see complete schedule below.
Press Opening: Wednesday, March 15, 7pm. RSVP online

WHERE
Avenue of the Arts / BU Theatre, 264 Huntington Avenue, Boston

TICKETS
Single tickets starting at $25 and FlexPasses are on sale:

  • online at huntingtontheatre.org;
  • by phone at 617 266 0800; or
  • in person at the BU Theatre Box Office, 264 Huntington Ave. and the Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA Box Office, 527 Tremont St. in Boston’s South End.

 Select discounts apply:

  • $5 off: seniors
  • $10 off: subscribers and BU community (faculty/staff/alumni)
  • $30 “35 Below” tickets for patrons 35 years old and younger (valid ID required)
  • $20 student and military tickets (valid ID required)

SPECIAL EVENTS IN CONJUNCTION WITH TOPDOG/UNDERDOG:
FREE COMMUNITY EVENT: TOPDOG/UNDERDOG AT THE STRAND 
Friday, February 24 at 7:30pm
RSVP: huntingtontheatre.org/strand
Join Tony Award winner Billy Porter and WCVB’s Karen Holmes Ward (host of “CityLine”) for a discussion about this Pulitzer Prize-winning play and its powerful resonance for contemporary audiences and get a sneak preview of the production. Free and open to the public.

POST-SHOW AUDIENCE CONVERSATIONS
After select Fri. – Sun. evening, Wed. matinee, Sat. matinee, and Sun. matinee performances throughout the season

An opportunity for audience members to discuss what they have just seen. Led by members of the Huntington staff.

COOLIDGE CORNER SCREENING OF MENACE II SOCIETY
Monday, March 13 at 7pm
Tickets: http://www.coolidge.org/films/menace-ii-society (Huntington subscribers receive discount with code)

After growing up in the turmoil and violence of the Los Angeles projects, 18-year-old Caine Lawson (Tyrin Turner) wants a way out. Everyone around him, including his unpredictable friend O-Dog (Larenz Tate), is trapped in their lives of crime and violence. With the help of his caring teacher (Charles Dutton) and supportive girlfriend (Jada Pinkett Smith), Caine plans to leave the city for good. But in a series of tragic events, Caine realizes that escape will not be easy. Directed by Allen Hughes and Albert Hughes. Join us after the film for a conversation with Lisa Simmons, president of The Color of Film Collaborative, about the shared themes in Menace II Society and Topdog/Underdog.

HUNTINGTON COMMUNITY MEMBERSHIP INITIATIVE RECEPTION
Thursday, March 16 at 6pm

A pre-show reception with refreshments for members of the Huntington Community Membership Initiative. Community Membership is an initiative designed to reduce the cost barrier of attending live theatre for those with limited income and to diversify the audiences so it looks more like the city of Boston. Members can purchase best-available tickets to any performance without restriction for just $20. Membership is free and available through partnerships with agencies and organizations that serve limited-income populations.

Bank of America is the Season Sponsor of the Huntington Community Membership Initiative. Made possible by a grant from Theatre Communications Group.

ACTORS FORUMS
Friday, March 17 after the 10am performance (student matinee)
Thursday, March 23 after the 7:30pm performance
Thursday, March 30 after the 10am performance (student matinee)
Wednesday, April 5 after the 2pm performance

Meet participating members of the cast of Topdog/Underdog and ask them your questions at the Actors Forum, following the performance.

STUDENT MATINEE
Friday, March 17 at 10am
Thursday, March 30 at 10am

Recommended for students in grades 9-12. Tickets: $15. Includes pre-show in-school visit, curriculum guide, post-show Actors Forum, and Dramatic Returns card for each student. Call Manager of Education Operations Meg O’Brien at mobrien@huntingtontheatre.org or 617 273 1558 for more information.

AMERICAN SIGN LANGUAGE-INTERPRETED PERFORMANCES
Thursday, March 17 at
10am (student matinee)
Friday, March 24 at 8pm

The Huntington Theatre Company offers ASL interpretation for the Deaf and hard of hearing at designated performances.

Seating for each ASL-interpreted performance is located in the orchestra, house left. Tickets are $20 for each Deaf patron and an additional $20 ticket can be purchased for a guest. To reserve tickets, please contact Access Coordinator Meg O’Brien at mobrien@huntingtontheatre.org or 617 273 1558.

HUMANITIES FORUM & BOSTON GLOBE EVENT WITH COLUMNIST YVONNE ABRAHAM
Sunday, March 19, after the 2pm performance
Boston Globe columnist Yvonne Abraham will lead a post-show discussion about the themes in Topdog/Underdog after the 2pm performance on March 19. A Boston Globe event – tickets to the March 19 performance are $45 for Boston Globe subscribers who use the discount code.

Yvonne Abraham is a columnist for the Metro section of The Boston Globe. Ms. Abraham’s work appears on Thursdays and Sundays. She previously covered state and national politics, and immigration at the Globe. She came to the paper in 1998 from the Boston Phoenix.

AUDIO-DESCRIBED PERFORMANCES
Thursday, March 30 at 10am (student matinee)
Saturday, April 1 at 2pm

The Huntington Theatre Company offers audio description for blind and low-vision patrons at designated performances.

Tickets are $20 for each patron and an additional $20 ticket can be purchased for a guest. To reserve tickets, please contact Access Coordinator Meg O’Brien at mobrien@huntingtontheatre.org or 617 273 1558.

35 BELOW WRAP PARTY
Friday, March 31, following the 8pm performance

A post-show party for young patrons aged 35 and below, featuring backstage access, free refreshments, and live entertainment. Mingle with members of the cast, creative team, and Huntington staff. Plus, meet other young theatre lovers in Boston!

35 Below tickets are available at all performances to patrons 35 and under for just $30.

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