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Rethinking a Classic: Huntington's Production of Caryl Churchill's Top Girls Boasts Diverse Cast

BOSTON, MA: For the Huntington Theatre Company’s major revival of the contemporary classic Top Girls by Caryl Churchill (Serious Money, Cloud Nine), Tony Award-nominated director Liesl Tommy (the Huntington’s A Raisin in the Sun, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, and Ruined; Eclipsed on Broadway) has assembled a diverse cast to play some of history’s most famous women and their modern-day counterparts. Top Girls runs from April 20 through May 20, 2018 at the Avenue of the Arts / Huntington Avenue Theatre.

Top Girls follows career-driven Marlene, who lands the top job over a male colleague at a London employment agency. To celebrate, she hosts a lavish dinner with a group of famous and adventurous historical women who cheer the successes and bemoan the sacrifices required to get ahead in a so-called man’s world. Written originally as a rebuke of Margaret Thatcher’s England in the 1980s, and inspired by conversations with feminists in England and America, Caryl Churchill’s groundbreaking masterpiece remains as relevant and powerful today.

Churchill is a prolific, highly regarded British playwright, having written more than 45 plays and been lauded by critics and peers. Paula Vogel called Churchill “the greatest playwright alive,” and The New York Times last year referred to Churchill as “the most dazzlingly inventive living dramatist in the English language.” She is famous for experimenting with playwriting forms, including the overlapping dialogue and non-linear timeline of Top Girls.

Liesl Tommy, one of the country’s most in-demand directors, returns to the Huntington after a successful Broadway run of Danai Gurira’s Eclipsed featuring Lupita Nyong’o, where she was the first woman of color ever to be nominated for the Tony Award for Best Direction of a Play. She has previously directed A Raisin in the Sun, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, and Ruined at the Huntington. Known for reimagining classic plays, Tommy has been in touch with Churchill and plans to reorder some of the scenes in Top Girls.

“Caryl Churchill is a hero of mine, and Top Girls is very close to my heart,” says Tommy, who also played Pope Joan in Top Girls as a student at Trinity Repertory Company in Providence. Her experience with the show gave her the idea to embrace diversity for the Huntington production. “I knew I wanted to cast Marlene and her sister with actors of color,” she says. “As an artist of color myself, I am always looking for ways to create access. The issues Churchill tackles in this play – class, capitalism, family dynamics, ambition, and the desire to be upwardly mobile – are about everyone.”

Artistic Director Peter DuBois says, “Liesl has assembled a stunningly talented cast of women who will bring power, passion, and humor to this iconic play. The impact of strong women around the world today knows no bounds, and I know audiences will be eager to see Liesl’s take on this 20th century masterpiece. I expect extended conversations about the themes of this play long after people have left the theatre.”

Top Girls runs April 20 through May 20, 2018. Single tickets starting at $25 and FlexPasses are available online at www.huntingtontheatre.org; by phone at 617 266 0800; or in person at the Huntington Avenue Theatre Box Office, 264 Huntington Ave. and the Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA Box Office, 527 Tremont St. in Boston’s South End.

 

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