August: Osage County, Lauded Tale of an Oklahoma Clan, Will Find Home on Broadway

By Kenneth Jones
August 22, 2007

Steppenwolf Theatre Company's acclaimed production of August: Osage County, the well-reviewed drama by Pulitzer Prize finalist Tracy Letts, will move from Chicago to Broadway this fall.



Since its June 28 launch at Steppenwolf, the play has been hailed by critics as in league with the rich density of Eugene O'Neill's best family dramas. Commercial producers pricked up their ears.

A limited 16-week run will begin at Broadway's Imperial Theatre Oct. 30 toward a Nov. 20 opening. The commercial producers of the Oklahoma-set play are Jeffrey Richards, Jean Doumanian, Steve Traxler and Jerry Frankel, in association with Steppenwolf.

According to the respected resident Chicago company, the drama concerns a missing patriarch and the reunion of the Weston clan to their three-story home in rural Oklahoma. "With rich insight and brilliant humor, Letts paints a vivid portrait of a Midwestern family at a turning point," according to production notes.

Letts has been lauded for such dark works as Bug and Killer Joe. His Man from Nebraska, which was produced at Steppenwolf in 2003, was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize.

Variety reported that the Broadway production is capitalized at $2.4 million. The Chicago troupers will repeat their work in New York City.

Anna D. Shapiro will again direct the 3-1/2 hour play. Billy Elliot has been announced to start at the Imperial in September 2008.

Richards told Variety the work is an "event play" — 13 actors and "a three-story house that fills the stage." Also on producer Richards, Frankel & Traxler are also producing this season's Broadway productions of Harold Pinter's The Homecoming and David Mamet's November.

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

The drama features ensemble members Ian Barford, Francis Guinan, Mariann Mayberry, Amy Morton, Sally Murphy, Jeff Perry, Rondi Reed and Rick Snyder, as well as Deanna Dunagan, Kimberly Guerrero, Fawn Johnstin, Dennis Letts and Troy West.

The staging plays at the Steppenwolf Downstairs Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted, in Chicago.

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.

The designers of August: Osage County are Todd Rosenthal (set), Ann Wrightson (lights), Ana Kuzmanic (costumes), Richard Woodbury (sound) and David Singer (original music). Cecilie O'Reilly is the dialect coach. Deb Styer is the stage manager, and Michelle Medvin is the assistant stage manager.

For more information visit www.steppenwolf.org.