Cast and Creative Team Set for THE HOT WING KING at Hartford Stage

Katori Hall’s Pulitzer Prize-winning comedy-drama runs February 29 through March 24, 2024.

By: Feb. 07, 2024
Cast and Creative Team Set for THE HOT WING KING at Hartford Stage

Hartford Stage has revealed the cast and creative team for The Hot Wing King, directed by Christopher D. Betts. Katori Hall’s Pulitzer Prize-winning comedy-drama runs February 29 through March 24, 2024, at 50 Church Street, Hartford, CT.

With only days to go until Memphis’s annual “Hot Wang Festival,” things are heating up in Cordell’s kitchen. He and his crew are prepping to take home the crown when his boyfriend’s nephew shows up at the front door… Over the course of one weekend, the fate of the competition — and their relationships — is called into question. Will the crew make it to the festival? Will they make it at all?

Director Christopher D. Betts describes The Hot Wing King as “a play that delves into radical intimacy, exploring the complexities of love and the potential harm it can inflict.” He says, “The Hot Wing King skillfully navigates nuanced portrayals of Black Queer relationships, giving language to experiences that are usually felt rather than expressed. It’s an invitation for audiences to immerse themselves in the richness of Black love. Love that is not stereotypical or conflict-averse but brave and rooted in emotional safety. As a society founded on narratives of Black suffering, this play prompts a crucial question: ‘What does Black love truly look like on stage?’”

The cast includes Bjorn DuPaty as Cordell, Israel Erron Ford as Isom, Marcus Gladney, Jr. as Everett “EJ,” Postell Pringle as Big Charles, Calvin M. Thompson as Dwayne, and Alphonso Walker Jr. as TJ. The full cast of The Hot Wing King makes their Hartford Stage debut. Actors Bjorn DuPaty and Calvin M. Thompson starred in the regional premiere of the play at Alliance Theatre in Atlanta; both are reprising their roles in Hartford.

Christopher D. Betts is Hartford Stage’s Joyce C. Willis Fellow, which is supported by The Roberts Foundation. The Hot Wing King is Betts’ second production with Hartford Stage, having previously directed Trouble in Mind in the 2022/2023 season: “Director Christopher D. Betts positions a combative and humorous piece of stagecraft that is witty, intelligent, dramatic and thought-provoking” (From the Desk of Jim R.). Betts recently directed a staged reading of Claudine Mboligikepelani Nako’s Photosynthesis at Goodspeed’s Festival of New Musicals and has directed multiple productions at his alma mater, the David Geffen School of Drama at Yale.

The creative team includes Scenic Designer Emmie Finckel, Costume Designer Jahise LeBouef, Lighting Designer Adam Honoré, and Sound Designer Kathy Ruvuna, with casting by Alaine Alldaffer. The production Stage Manager is Bernita Robinson and the Assistant Stage Manager is Makayla Beckles.

The Hot Wing King is a co-production with Baltimore Center Stage. “We are thrilled to partner with our incredible friends at Hartford Stage to bring this Pulitzer Prize-winning play to life in both Connecticut and Maryland,” said Baltimore Center Stage Artistic Director Stevie Walker-Webb. “Katori Hall’s hysterical and deeply moving drama puts Black Queer love on full, transparent display, while examining questions around masculinity and what makes a family. Under Christopher D. Betts' keen direction, audiences should prepare themselves for a raucous and riveting performance.” 

The Hot Wing King will run from Thursday, February 29, 2024, through Sunday, March 24, 2024. Tuesday through Thursday evening performances begin at 7:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday evening performances begin at 8:00 p.m.; matinee performances on Saturdays, Sundays, and a select Wednesday begin at 2:00 p.m.

Tickets for The Hot Wing King start at $30. Discounts are available for students and groups. Groups wanting to create a special occasion out of their visit can reserve a private space at the theater to enjoy a reception before or after the performance. Email for more information about pricing and availability.

Musicians from The Hartt School at the University of Hartford will be performing pre-show on Thursday, February 29, and Friday, March 15, 2024. The Live Music in the Lobby series is curated by Chadwick G. Thomas in collaboration with The Hartt School.

An open-captioned performance for patrons who are deaf or have hearing loss will be on Sunday, March 17 at 2:00 p.m. An audio-described performance for patrons who are blind or have low vision will be on Saturday, March 23 at 2:00 p.m. Post-show conversations with members of the cast and crew will take place on Sunday, March 10; Tuesday, March 19; and Wednesday, March 20.

There are three ways to purchase tickets: online at, by phone at 860-527-5151, or in-person through the box office at 50 Church Street. The theater advises audiences to be careful and not purchase tickets through any other website. Third-party resellers will try to sell tickets for twice the price or more. If you have any doubts or questions, please contact the Hartford Stage box office directly. Hartford Stage does not charge any additional fees for tickets.

Photo credit: T. Charles Erickson