Update on “August: Osage County” in New York

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I hope I don’t turn into a one-trick pony over the course of the next several weeks, but I will try to write regularly about Steppenwolf’s “August: Osage County”‘s Broadway transfer.  Not only because it is one of the best plays I have seen or read in my lifetime, but also because I can hardly contain my excitement that a quintessentially Chicago play, written by a Chicago-based playwright, and employing the magnificent talents of Chicago-based actors and artistic staff, has the potential to take New York City, the self-anointed theatrical capital of America, by storm.  The success of “August” on Broadway will be both vindication and validation – that Chicago is not flyover country, “the provinces”, the second city, but rather the dynamic, beating heart of new American dramatic writing.

Previews began last Tuesday, October 30, and the buzz has started to build in the Broadway and theatre-related chat forums.  Posters on “All that Chat” have used the descriptives overwhelming, not-to-be-missed, brilliant, and master class in acting.  Unfortunately, some chatters on BroadwayWorld’s Bulletin Board have noted a half-empty theatre (well, the Imperial Theatre has 1,400 seats, and unless you are having the Democratic Party convention or American Idol on tour in there, it will always seem half-empty) and rows that clear out during the first intermission.  Three hour and forty-five minute dramas about dysfunctional Oklahoman families will be a hard-sell to tourists looking for their first New York hotdog while wearing Lady Liberty hats on their heads and fanny pouches on their bellies.  (“We’re from Oklahoma, why would we want to see a play about…Oklahomans?”).  For “August” to succeed on Broadway, it has to be embraced not only by serious theatregoers in New York and the Northeast, but also across the United States, who will travel to see truly magnetic destination theatre.

In the meantime, I wanted to share this fun video of a very relaxed Jeff Perry, Amy Morton, Francis Guinan, and Mariann Mayberry, on the eve of what is one of the most anticipated openings of any art form in New York.  Speaking of fun videos, check out this over-the-top rap video homage to “August’s” playwright Tracy Letts, from the improv duo Southern Mothers.  These boys call Tracy “America’s krunkest living playwright, actor, pimp, improviser, avuncular figure and straight-hustlin’ guru.”  Both outrageous and theatre-geeky, it gave me the impossible pleasure of hearing the words “Rondi Reed is in the house!” in my lifetime.  Happy viewing!

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