Oklahoma Family Is Not O.K. in Bway Bow of August: Osage County

News   Oklahoma Family Is Not O.K. in Bway Bow of August: Osage County Once thought to be extinct, the three-act, three-hour, thick 'n' meaty dysfunctional-family drama makes a rare appearance on Broadway Oct. 30 with the first preview of Tracy Letts' August: Osage County, a play that critics have said harkens to the work of Eugene O'Neill and Tennessee Williams.
Amy Morton and Deanna Dunagan in August: Osage County.
Amy Morton and Deanna Dunagan in August: Osage County. Photo by Michael Brosilow

A year ago, the American drama by the Pulitzer Prize-nominated writer of Man from Nebraska, Bug and Killer Joe was on nobody's radar as a fall 2007 Broadway possibility. But a lauded world premiere by Steppenwolf Theatre Company over the summer made critics and audiences giddy in Chicago, so commercial producers Jeffrey Richards and partners negotiated a fast-track to Broadway's Imperial Theatre, for a 16-week limited engagement. Opening night will be Nov. 20.

Most of the Steppenwolf troupe has jetted east for the staging, which is again directed by Anna D. Shapiro. Brian Kerwin of Broadway's After the Night and the Music and The Little Foxes joins the production, replacing Steppenwolf ensemble member Rick Snyder.

The play, according to the producers, is described this way: "When their patriarch vanishes, the Weston clan must return to their three-story home in rural Oklahoma to get to the heart of the matter. With rich insight and brilliant humor, Letts paints a vivid portrait of a Midwestern family at a turning point."

The title county is pronounced "OH SAGE." Critics conjured such titles as Long Day's Journey Into Night and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof as kindred spirits of the play. Prognosticators also see the work as a contender for the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

The lauded Steppenwolf actors repeat their roles for the Broadway run: Ian Barford (Little Voice), Deanna Dunagan (Bounce, I Never Sang for My Father), Kimberly Guerrero ("Seinfeld," "The Sopranos"), Francis Guinan (Constantine), Dennis Letts ("Cast Away"), Mariann Mayberry (Metamorphoses), Amy Morton (One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest), Sally Murphy (Carousel, Fiddler on the Roof), Jeff Perry ("Grey's Anatomy," The Caretaker), Rondi Reed (Little Voice) and Troy West (Picasso at the Lapin Agile). Madeleine Martin (The Pillowman, "Californication") is also new to the cast in New York, along with understudies Munson Hicks, Susanne Marley, Jay Patterson, Dee Pelletier, Molly Ranson and Kristina Valada-Viars. The production features sets by Todd Rosenthal (a rambling house), costumes by Ana Kuzmanic, lighting by Ann Wrightson and sound design by Richard Woodbury. David Singer penned the original music.

The Steppenwolf Theatre Company production of August: Osage County is produced on Broadway by Jeffrey Richards, Jean Doumanian, Steve Traxler, Jerry Frankel, Ostar Productions, Jennifer Manocherian, The Weinstein Company, Debra Black/Daryl Roth, Ronald & Marc Frankel/Barbara Freitag, and Rick Steiner/Staton Bell Group, in association with Steppenwolf Theatre Company (Martha Lavey, artistic director; David Hawkanson, executive director).

Show times are Tuesday-Friday at 7:30 PM, Saturday at 8 PM, Wednesday and Saturday at 2 PM and Sunday at 3 PM.

The Imperial Theatre is located in Manhattan at 245 W. 45th Street. Tickets are available by calling (212) 239-6200 or by visiting www.telecharge.com.

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Steppenwolf Theatre Company's world premiere of August: Osage County opened July 8 after previews from June 28. It closed Aug. 26.

The staging played at the Steppenwolf Downstairs Theatre.

Pulitzer Prize finalist Tracy Letts became a Steppenwolf ensemble member in 2002 and was recently named an artistic associate. He has appeared at Steppenwolf in Betrayal, The Pillowman, Last of the Boys, The Pain and the Itch, The Dresser, Homebody/Kabul, The Dazzle, Glengarry Glen Ross (also Dublin and Toronto), Three Days of Rain, Road to Nirvana, Picasso at the Lapin Agile and the Steppenwolf for Young Adults production of The Glass Menagerie.

Director Shapiro is an ensemble member at Steppenwolf, where her directing credits include The Unmentionables by Bruce Norris (also at Yale Rep), the world premiere of Bruce Norris' The Pain and the Itch (also in New York), Robert Anderson's I Never Sang for My Father, the world premiere of Tracy Letts' Man from Nebraska, Until We Find Each Other by Brooke Berman, Purple Heart by Bruce Norris (also in Galway, Ireland), The Drawer Boy by Michael Healey, the world premiere of The Ordinary Yearning of Miriam Buddwing by Alexandra Gersten-Vassilaros, Warren Leight's Side Man (also in Ireland, Australia and Vail, Colorado), Richard Greenberg's Three Days of Rain and the world premiere of Bruce Norris' The Infidel.

For more information visit www.steppenwolf.org, or visit www.augustonbroadway.com.

<i>August: Osage County</i> at the Steppenwolf Theatre.
August: Osage County at the Steppenwolf Theatre. Photo by Michael Brosilow