Billy Porter-Helmed TOPDOG/UNDERDOG Starring Matthew J. Harris and Tyrone Mitchell Henderson at Huntington through April 9

The Huntington Theatre Company is presenting 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). The two-handed starring Matthew J. Harris and Tyrone Mitchell Henderson has performances through April 9, 2017 at the Avenue of the Arts / BU Theatre, 264 Huntington Avenue in Boston, MA.

Matthew J. Harris and Tyrone Mitchell Henderson. Photo Credit: T. Charles Erickson
Matthew J. Harris and Tyrone Mitchell Henderson. Photo Credit: T. Charles Erickson

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.

Tyrone Mitchell Henderson and Matthew J. Harris. Photo Credit: T. Charles Erickson
Tyrone Mitchell Henderson and Matthew J. Harris. Photo Credit: T. Charles Erickson

Select Evenings: Tues. – Thurs. at 7:30pm; Fri. – Sat. at 8pm; select Sun. at 7pm. Matinees: Select Wed., Sat., and Sun. at 2pm

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.

Tyrone Mitchell Henderson and Matthew J. Harris. Photo Credit: T. Charles Erickson
Tyrone Mitchell Henderson and Matthew J. Harris. Photo Credit: T. Charles Erickson

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. Photo Credit: T. Charles Erickson
Tyrone Mitchell Henderson. Photo Credit: T. Charles Erickson

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 PlayTwo 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.

Tyrone Mitchell Henderson and Matthew J. Harris. Photo Credit: T. Charles Erickson
Tyrone Mitchell Henderson and Matthew J. Harris. Photo Credit: T. Charles Erickson

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. 

Tyrone Mitchell Henderson and Matthew J. Harris. Photo Credit: T. Charles Erickson
Tyrone Mitchell Henderson and Matthew J. Harris. Photo Credit: T. Charles Erickson

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 ClubThe HumblingBilly 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.

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.

Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

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