Actors’ “August: Osage County” in On the Town

Check out this article by Joanne Bailey that was published by On the Town:

Actors’ closes out its season with the powerful ‘August: Osage County’

Joanne N. Bailey-Boorsma | On-the-Town By Joanne N. Bailey-Boorsma | On-the-Town 

All in a row: Cassandra Caye, Shelly Urbane, Amy Osborn, and Jean Reed Bahle. Photo credit: Stephanie Larson

Some of the great plays of the last century (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Death of a Salesman) are epic productions where everyone leaves entertained but rethinking their values. Surprisingly, all of these stories are about families in crisis. It’s a favorite subject of playwrights because, while family forges our beliefs, it also tests them when things are tough. This month, Actors’ Theatre’s latest production,August: Osage County, looks It’s summer in Oklahoma and poet Beverly Weston has disappeared. When his adult daughters come home to help their seriously ill mother, Violet, find him, they instead discover themselves at the mercy of their mother’s slick tongue, stash of painkillers, and arsenal of family secrets.

When August: Osage County premiered at the Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago, it captivated audiences, critics, and performers. After it opened on Broadway and in London, the play also had subsequent premieres in India, Israel, and other countries. It won both a Pulitzer Prize and a Tony Award for Best Play in 2008 and Entertainment Weekly wrote, “Even with a run time of three and a half hours, Tracy Letts’s 2007 drama of Southern-fried familial dysfunction went by in one lightning-fast jolt of pure theatrical electricity.”

It’s the same feeling that director Fred Sebulske had after seeing it in New York. “I turned to my friend and told him that I could watch that all over again,” he said.

Sebulske feels that audiences and as well as performers are drawn to the show because its conflicts (and its comedy) are universal. “It’s a very powerful piece about family and how the things that parents have done have impacted their children,” Sebulske continued. “I’m amazed that this is a very funny play, even though we’re dealing with a serious subject. It’s got great wit and humor. It truly is an epic piece of theater.”

Actors’ Theatre presents August: Osage County May 17—26. Showtimes are 7 p.m. Thursday—Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, May 20. Performances are at Spectrum Theater, 160 Fountain St. NE. For more information, call 234-3946 or visit www.actorstheatregrandrapids.org

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