Note: Director Andrew Barr will discuss “Doubt: A Parable” at noon on Jan. 16, and, director Raelle Myrick-Hodges will discuss “Topdog/Underdog” at noon on Jan. 23.  Both events will be held in the Paul Green Theatre.

CHAPEL HILL – PlayMakers Repertory Company brings audiences the excitement of the “Rep” experience with two mainstage productions running in a rotating schedule from Jan. 26 through March 2, 2008.  “Doubt, A Parable” and “Topdog/Underdog,” recent hit Broadway plays which have also won Pulitzer Prizes, will be performed on alternating dates.

 

All performances by PlayMakers, the professional theatre in residence at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are in the Paul Green Theatre in the Center for Dramatic Art on Country Club Road. For a complete schedule of performances, visit http://www.playmakersrep.org.

 

Special events include dual opening festivities on Feb. 2 with “Topdog/Underdog” being performed at 2:00 pm and “Doubt” onstage at 8:00 pm, as well as free post-show discussions on Feb. 6 and Feb. 10 for “Doubt” and Feb. 13 for “Topdog/Underdog”, and all-access performances for attendees with special needs on Feb. 19 (“Doubt”) and Feb. 26 (“Topdog/Underdog.”) Tickets are $10 to $40.

 

“Doubt, A Parable” is set in a Bronx Catholic school in 1964, where a strong-minded principal wrestles with conscience and uncertainty when faced with concerns about one of her male colleagues. This Tony Award winner by John Patrick Shanley is a riveting exploration of paranoia and suspicion that calls into question faith, justice and assumptions about the nature of truth.  Shanley also received the Academy Award for his original script for the film “Moonstruck.”

 

[“Doubt” is] a topical, tight, funny, crowd-pleaser…” said The New York Times.

 

Playwright Suzan-Lori Parks’ “Topdog/Underdog” is the story of African-American brothers, Lincoln and Booth, whose names were given to them as a joke by their father. Abandoned by their parents as teenagers, they fight for position and legitimacy in the world. Haunted by their past and their obsession with the con game three-card monte, they are forced to confront the shattering reality of their future.

Variety called “Topdog/Underdog” “an utterly mesmerizing evening of theater…” and went on to say, “…the vitality, freshness and gritty lyricism of Parks’ writing are unlike anything to be heard on a Broadway stage.”

The ensemble cast for “Doubt, A Parable”includes:

 

Janie Brookshire (Sister James) appeared at PlayMakers this season as Juliet in “Romeo and Juliet” and Meg in “Crimes of the Heart.” Other PlayMakers credits include “The Illusion” (2007), “Cyrano de Bergerac” (2006) and “The Front Page” (2005), as well as New York productions “Drums in the Night” for ColumbiaUniversitySchool of the Arts and “Henry IV Parts 1 & 2” and “Richard II”for Instant Shakespeare Co.

Jeffrey Blair Cornell (Father Flynn) was Capulet in season opener Romeo and Juliet and last season performed in “The Illusion” and “The Underpants.” Various other appearances over 12 seasons with PlayMakers include “Cyrano de Bergerac,” “King Lear,” “Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde,” “The Threepenny Opera,” “The Laramie Project,” “Uncle Vanya,” “Side Man,” “The Beauty Queen of Leenane”  and “Hobson’s Choice.” He has acted in New York and at Pittsburgh Public Theater, Paper Mill Playhouse, Victory Gardens Theatre, Caldwell Theatre.

Julie Fishell (Sister Aloysius) is a 15-year company member. Her PlayMakers productions include “The Underpants,” “Cyrano de Bergerac,” “Frozen,” “The Front Page,” “Caesar and Cleopatra,” “A Prayer for Owen Meany,” “Othello,” “All’s Well That Ends Well,” “Side Man,” “A Delicate Balance,” “The Seagull,” “Tartuffe,” and “A Little Night Music.”  She has appeared at New York’sPublic Theatre, Manhattan Class Company and Theatre for a New Audience, in national touring companies and regional theatres such as Hartford Stage Company, JohnF.KennedyCenter for the Performing Arts and Virginia State Company.

 

Kathryn Hunter-Williams ( Mrs. Muller) was Nurse/Lady Montague in PRC’s
Romeo and Juliet” and appeared in last season ’s “The Bluest Eye.” Previous PlayMakers productions include “Yellowman,” “Salome,” “Our Town,” “The Man Who Came To Dinner,” “The Laramie Project,” “Wit,” and “Constant Star.” In New York City, she worked with The Negro Ensemble Company, Manhattan Class Company, and New Dramatists. A member of  Living Stage Theater Company in Washington, DC, she’s performed with Transactors Improv Company and Archipelago Theater.

 

Director Andrew Barr returns to PlayMakers, where he previously directed “Frozen,” “Copenhagen,” “The Subject Was Roses,” “Dinner with Friends,” “Side Man,” and “Wit.” He also directs for Boise Contemporary Theater, Portland Stage in Maine, Idaho Shakespeare Festival and Great Lakes Theater Festival. He has helmed Off-Broadway premieres and revivals, as well as plays at The Actors Company Theater, Playwrights Horizons, Lincoln Center Theater’s Directors’ Lab, and New York Stage and Film, among others.

 

The cast of “Topdog/Underdog” is:

 

Brandon J. Dirden (Booth) appeared on Broadway in “Prelude to A Kiss.” Regional credits include “Ceremonies in Dark Old Men,” True Colors Theatre; “Othello,” “Twelfth Night,” and others, Georgia Shakespeare Festival; “Take Me Out,” Theatre in the Square; “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone,” Houston’s Alley Theater; Horizon Theatre, Atlanta’s Alliance Theatre, 7 Stages, Ensemble Theater, Utah Shakespeare Festival, and “Julius Caesar” and “As You Like It” with the North Carolina Shakespeare Festival.  Brandon has appeared on TV in “Tyler Perry’s House of Payne.” 

 

Tyrone Mitchell Henderson (Lincoln) was last at PlayMakers in “Master Harold…and the boys.” New York credits include “Bring in Da Noise, Bring in Da Funk,” “The America Play,” “The Tempest,” “Medea,” and “Stonewall.” Regional theatre appearances include “Othello” (title role), “Hamlet,” “Much Ado About Nothing,” “The Merchant of Venice,” “Yellowman,” “The Piano Lesson,” “Jitney,” “Six Degrees of Separation,” “A Raisin in the Son,” and “Blues for an Alabama Sky,” opposite Phylicia Rashad.  Television appearances include “Law & Order” and “New York Undercover.”

 

Directing “Topdog/Underdog” is Raelle Myrick-Hodges, the new Artistic Director of San Francisco’s BravaTheaterCenter.  She’s worked at The Public Theater, Magic Theatre, Philadelphia Theatre Company, Berkeley Repertory, and the Mark Taper Forum, among others, and is co-founder of the Azuka Theatre in Philadelphia.  Raelle has worked with artists such as Mos Def, Jeffrey Wright, George C. Wolfe, Keith David, Liev Schreiber, and Suzan-LoriParks. She was assistant director for the original production of Parks’ “Topdog/Underdog” and the revival of Brecht’s “Mother Courage,” starring Meryl Streep.

 

The production team for both plays includes Marion Williams (sets), Jan Chambers (costumes), Justin Townsend (lighting), and Michèl Marrano (sound). 

 

For information about PlayMakers’ season, call (919) 962-PLAY or visit www.playmakersrep.org. Based in UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences, PlayMakers is the Carolinas’ premiere resident professional theatre company. The Drama League recently named PlayMakers one of the “best regional theatre companies in America.”

 

Coverage note: Media are welcome to cover the “Director’s Lunch” preview discussions at noon on Jan. 16 and Jan. 23. Photography, videography, lights and flashes are not restricted. For additional assistance, call (919) 428-1744.

 

PlayMakers contact: Connie Mahan, (919) 428-1744, mail:email.unc.edu:cmahan.