Breaking from its tradition of mounting all original works, Fremont Centre Theatre presents Lori Parks’ 2002 Pulitizer Prize-winning Topdog/Underdog opening Saturday, August 21. FCT Co-founder James Reynolds directs Jed Reynolds and Stephen Rider.
Mixing humor, anger, suspense and drama, Topdog/Underdog centers on two African-American brothers named Lincoln and Booth (their father’s idea of a joke). Abandoned by their parents to fend for themselves while still juveniles aged 16 and 11, the brothers are now in their thirties. They live marginal lives sharing a rented room in a low-rent district. Their relationships with women have been spotty at best.
Booth (Rider), the younger brother, wants to be a master at the con game of three card monte, which dupes the mark, or sucker, through misdirection. Lincoln (Reynolds) a master at three card monte, has set the game aside to pursue a legitimate employment: portraying the 16th President in whiteface in an especially tasteless amusement arcade attraction. Abraham Lincoln is repeatedly assassinated over the course of a day.
Lincoln’s employment status changes, drawing Lincoln back into the underworld of three card monte, where still a master, he is ready to make more big scores. The festering sibling rivalry between the two men now threatens to develop into a dangerous, explosive boil.
James Reynolds is known and loved by millions of fans for his role as Abe Carver through 28 seasons of the daytime TV drama Days of Our Lives. His previous directing credits at FCT include National Pastime, Ravensridge, Murder Me Once and The Tangled Snarl. Also at the Fremont, he appeared in a solo show about Black history, I, Too, Am America.
Jed Reynolds appeared previously at FCT as Jackie Robinson in National Pastime and as the young romantic lead in Ravensridge. He has also toured with the Native Voices theater company, appeared locally with the Parson’s Nose Company and appeared often guest starred on Days Of Our Lives.
Stephen Rider received an MFA from UCLA. He appeared in the film The Great Debaters for director Denzel Washington.
Topdog/Underdog previews 8 p.m., Friday, August 20, opens 8 p.m. Saturday, August 21 and performs 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday through September 18. Tickets are $25, $20 students and seniors, $35 Gala Opening night (all seats). Preview tickets are $12.50. Call 866-811-4111 or visit www.fremontcentretheatre.com.
Fremont Centre Theatre is located at 1000 Fremont Ave. (at El Centro) in South Pasadena. Ample free parking is available behind theatre.
Send questions, comments and suggestions to [email protected]
An interview with James Reynolds to come.
Photo by Carla Larissa Fallberg—Stephen Rider and Jed Reynolds.
For more information: www.fremontcentretheatre.com