WHAT:  Topdog/Underdog community event at the Strand
WHEN: Thursday, February 23 at 7:30pm (doors open at 7pm)
WHERE: Strand Theatre, 543 Columbia Road, Boston
TICKETS: Free and open to the public. RSVP

(BOSTON, MA) – Huntington Theatre Company in partnership with Dorchester’s Strand Theatre presents a free community event on Thursday, February 23 at 7:30pm in conjunction with the Huntington’s upcoming production of Topdog/Underdog.

The evening will feature a discussion about Suzan-Lori Parks’ Pulitzer Prize-winning play Topdog/Underdog and its powerful resonance for contemporary audiences with director and Tony Award-winning artist Billy Porter (Kinky Boots) and Karen Holmes Ward, Director of Public Affairs and Community Services and WCVB-TV’s host and executive producer of “CityLine.” A scene from the production will also be performed by Matthew J. Harris (Booth) and Tyrone Mitchell Henderson (Lincoln).

The evening is free and open to the public, but RSVPs are encouraged.

The upcoming event continues the Huntington’s longstanding tradition of bringing its work beyond its homes on the Avenue of the Arts and in the South End to Boston’s neighborhoods and communities, including past events at the Strand Theatre (Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner in 2014; A Raisin in the Sun in 2013; Breath, Boom in 2003), Hibernian Hall (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom in 2012), and Roxbury Community College (Gem of the Ocean in 2004; Radio Golf in 2006; Fences in 2009).

The Huntington Theatre Company’s production of Topdog/Underdog by Suzan-Lori Parks plays March 10 – April 9, 2017 at the Avenue of the Arts / BU Theatre. Tickets start at $25. More information at  

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. The New York Times says Topdog/Underdog is a “thrilling comic drama. Dazzlingly written,” and Entertainment Weekly says “Topdog/Underdog is demandingly smart and resonant!”

Karen Holmes Ward (Host) is the Director of Public Affairs and Community Services as well as host and executive producer of “CityLine,” WCVB-TV’s award-winning weekly magazine program which addresses the accomplishments, concerns, and issues facing people of color living in Boston and its suburbs. Many notables including Oscar winners Lupita Nyong’o, Octavia Spencer, Lou Gossett, and Denzel Washington as well as Oscar nominees Chiwetel Ejiofor, Oprah Winfrey, and Quvenzhane Wallis have been interviewed by Ms. Holmes Ward for “CityLine.” “CityLine” has been a recipient of the Associated Press Massachusetts/Rhode Island ‘Best’ Public Affairs Program and numerous Emmy Award nominations. Ms. Holmes Ward also oversees WCVB’s public service and community outreach efforts including the station’s work on Extreme Makeover: My Hometown, raising awareness about the need for affordable housing in the Greater Boston area, and WCVB’s first-of-its-kind web-based initiative, Commonwealth 5. This online project promotes philanthropy by matching viewer-donors with non-profits via the Internet. CommonWealth 5 was nominated for a National Emmy Award. WCVB’s community service efforts during and following the Boston Marathon attack were honored with a National Association of Broadcasters ‘Service to Community in Television’ award. A graduate of Boston University’s School of Public Communications (now COM), Ms. Holmes Ward has received numerous awards for her work in the community including the Boston Jaycees Ten Outstanding Young Leaders Award; National Association of Black Journalists Region I Journalist of the Year; Big Sister of Greater Boston Achievement Award; Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts President’s Award; and Women of Courage and Conviction Award from the Greater Boston Section National Council of Negro Women, Inc. among others.

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. The Huntington will honor Mr. Porter with the Wimberly Award alongside Mayor Martin J. Walsh at this year’s Spotlight Spectacular gala on Monday, April 24, 2017.

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.

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.

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