Tracy Letts' Superior Donuts Likely to Be Served on Broadway

News   Tracy Letts' Superior Donuts Likely to Be Served on Broadway
Superior Donuts, a small-scale 2008 workplace play by Pulitzer Prize winner Tracy Letts, is expected to open for business on Broadway in fall 2009, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Michael McKean in Superior Donuts
Michael McKean in Superior Donuts Photo by Michael Brosilow

The Joseph Jefferson Award-nominated play was produced by Steppenwolf Theatre Company — the same Chicago theatre that first gave life to Letts' acclaimed Broadway play August: Osage County — and premiered in summer 2008 at Steppenwolf's Downstairs Theatre, the same venue where eventual Pulitzer Prize winner and Tony Award winner August was born a year earlier.

The Trib cited commercial producer Steve Traxler and Steppenwolf in reporting that talks are underway to move the production to Broadway.

"It's very exciting to continue our relationship with Tracy," August producing partner Traxler told the Tribune.

No official announcement of a Broadway run has been made.

The world premiere of Superior Donuts, about a run-down uptown Chicago donut shop, was directed by Steppenwolf ensemble member Tina Landau (Space, Dream True and the current Steppenwolf production of The Tempest) and starred Michael McKean (Broadway's Hairspray and The Homecoming, TV's "Laverne & Shirley," Hollywood's "A Mighty Wind") as the shop's proprietor. They are expected to repeat their duties.

McKean played Arthur Przybyszewski, whose one employee, Franco Wicks (played in 2008 by Jon Michael Hill), wants to change the shop for the better.

The Tribune reported that Letts has revised his script since its premiere.

The original production also featured Steppenwolf ensemble members Yasen Peyankov and James Vincent Meredith, with Jane Alderman, Kate Buddeke, Cliff Chamberlain, Michael Garvey and Robert Maffia.

In the play, according to earlier Steppenwolf notes, "Arthur Przybyszewski (Michael McKean) owns a decrepit donut shop in the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago. Franco Wicks (Jon Michael Hill), a black teenager who is his only employee, wants to change the shop for the better. This provocative world premiere comedy, set in the heart of one of Chicago's most diverse communities, explores the challenges of embracing the past and the redemptive power of friendship."


August: Osage County continues its Broadway run at the Music Box. It 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 in 2008 included Loy Arcenas (sets), Ana Kuzmanic (costumes), Christopher Akerlind (lights) and Rob Milburn and Michael Bodeen (original music and sound).

Ensemble member Landau 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.


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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