Workplace Comedy Superior Donuts, by Tony Winner Tracy Letts, Opens in Chicago

News   Workplace Comedy Superior Donuts, by Tony Winner Tracy Letts, Opens in Chicago Playwright Tracy Letts, whose August: Osage County was set in a rambling three-story Oklahoma farmhouse, downsizes the setting for his new world premiere, Superior Donunts, opening June 29 at Steppenwolf Theatre Company's Downstairs Theatre.
Michael McKean in Superior Donuts
Michael McKean in Superior Donuts Photo by Michael Brosilow

The new play by 2008 Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winner Letts is set in a modest Chicago donut shop — one that's in transition.

The world-premiere staging directed by Tina Landau and starring Michael McKean as the shop's proprietor, began June 19 for a run through Aug. 17. A year ago, Steppenwolf was premiering August: Osage County, which moved to Broadway glory by fall.

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McKean, late of Broadway's The Homecoming, plays Arthur Przybyszewski, who owns a run-down donut shop in the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago. Franco Wicks (played by Jon Hill) — a black teenager who is his only employee — wants to change the shop for the better.

The production features ensemble members Hill, Yasen Peyankov and James Vincent Meredith, with guest artist McKean. According to Steppenwolf, Superior Donuts "is a provocative comedy about the challenges of embracing the past and the redemptive power of friendship."

Ensemble member Letts received the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for his critically acclaimed play August: Osage County, currently playing at Broadway's Music Box following a sold-out run at Steppenwolf in 2007. On June 15 August also won 2008 Tony Awards for Best Play, Best Direction, Best Scenic Design of a Play, Best Leading Actress and Best Featured Actress.

Letts is also the author of Man from Nebraska, which was produced at Steppenwolf in 2003 and was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize; Killer Joe, which has been produced in Chicago, London and New York; and Bug, which has played in New York, Chicago and London.

The Superior Donuts design team includes Loy Arcenas (sets), Ana Kuzmanic (costumes), Christopher Akerlind (lights) and Rob Milburn and Michael Bodeen (original music and sound). Edward Sobel is the dramaturg. Laura Glenn is the stage manager, and Lauren V. Hickman is the assistant stage manager.

Ensemble member Landau most recently directed Steppenwolf's 2007 production of The Diary of Anne Frank. Other Steppenwolf directing credits include Cherry Orchard, The Time of Your Life (also Seattle Rep, A.C.T.), Theatrical Essays, Maria Arndt, The Ballad of Little Jo, The Berlin Circle, Time to Burn, and her own play, Space (also at The Public Theater, Mark Taper Forum).

In 1976, Michael McKean came to national prominence as Lenny in TV's "Laverne and Shirley." His film appearances include the beloved mockumentaries "This Is Spinal Tap" (which he co-wrote and composed songs for), "Best in Show" and "A Mighty Wind" (for which he and his wife Annette O'Toole were nominated for an Academy Award for the song, "A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow"). He starred in "Planes, Trains and Automobiles," "Coneheads," "The Brady Bunch Movie," "Jack," "True Crime," and many other movies, including Christopher Guest's "The Big Picture" (also co-wrote) and "For Your Consideration."

He also collaborated with Guest and Eugene Levy on the title song of "A Mighty Wind." It won a Grammy Award.

McKean made his Broadway debut in 1990 with Rupert Holmes' Accomplice, and made his Broadway musical debut in Hairspray, followed by Woody Allen's original stage production, A Secondhand Memory. He also appeared in Williamstown Theatre Festival's On the Razzle, the Broadway revival of The Pajama Game with Harry Connick Jr. and the London play, Love Song.

For more information visit www.steppenwolf.org.

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Superior Donuts was developed as part of Steppenwolf's New Plays Initiative. Through this initiative, the company maintains ongoing relationships with writers of international prominence and rigorously discovers and supports the work of early and mid-career playwrights.

"Committed to the principle of ensemble performance through the collaboration of a company of actors," directors and playwrights, Steppenwolf Theatre Company's mission is "to advance the vitality and diversity of American theatre by nurturing artists, encouraging repeatable creative relationships and contributing new works to the national canon."

The company, formed in 1976 by a collective of actors, is dedicated to "perpetuating an ethic of mutual respect and the development of artists through on-going group work."

Jon Michael Hill and Michael McKean in <i>Superior Donuts</i>.
Jon Michael Hill and Michael McKean in Superior Donuts. Photo by Michael Brosilow
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