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It's Not The End of August: Osage County

By Suzy Evans in Arts & Entertainment on Jun 25, 2009 9:00PM

Phylicia Rashad and Amy Morton in August: Osage County. Photo by Robert J. Saferstein.
Tracy Letts’ epic August: Osage County will close its doors on Broadway this Sunday after 648 performances, making it one of the longest running plays in Broadway history. And while you might think we’re finally going to stop hearing about it now, you’re wrong.

Although it’s been on Broadway for almost two years, August: Osage County never really left Chicago. A huge poster for the show faces the el tracks on the side of the Steppenwolf, where the play originated, and during their morning commute, brown and purple line riders can ponder a photo of a restrained woman screaming. Theater companies throughout the city have tried to find some connection to the show’s great success, whether it be hiring its original cast and crew members (and publicizing the fact) or just using it as a great reason to be a part of the Chicago theater scene.

The national tour kicks off this summer in Denver and will arrive in Chicago next February, this time at the Ford Center for the Performing Arts. Letts’ play Superior Donuts, which premiered at the Steppenwolf last summer, will open on Broadway this October. While this production did not receive as much critical acclaim as August, it’s nice to know that there will still be a little chi-town flavor on the Great White Way next season after the Tony Awards shunned Chicago theater this year. And you can be sure this show will be publicized: “August: Osage County playwright Tracy Letts’ Superior Donuts.”

August opened on Broadway at the Imperial Theatre on December 4, 2007, and in April 2008, it moved to the Music Box Theater, where it has continued ever since. It closes just weeks after The Cosby Show’s Phylicia Rashad took the stage as the vicious matriarch Violet Weston, creating a new racial perspective on the play. Rashad became first black actress to win a Tony for a leading role when she won for her performance in Raisin in the Sun in 2004. We’re pretty sure that everyone in Chicago is aware that the play won the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 2008 and the Tony Award for Best Play, and even though we’re sick of hearing about it, the show is pretty freaking incredible.