Thursday, June 19, 2008

Tracy Letts On Superior Donuts: "Pressure's Off!"

Tracy Letts On Superior Donuts: "Pres-sure's Off!"

There's no rest for the weary, and if you're Tracy Letts, it's back to Chicago's Steppenwolf where your next, now very hotly anticipated new play Superior Donuts, set in the Windy City's Uptown neighborhood, begins previews this evening.

What? Now that Letts won the Tony for August: Osage County, you were expecting Disney World?!

In a very candid interview with Time Out Chicago, Letts lets loose about the expectations for his latest work:

Time Out Chicago: No pressure with the new play, right?
Tracy Letts: No. Hell no. Pressure’s off, man. Pressure’s off forever.

TOC: Really? Why is that?
Tracy Letts: Well, come on! [Laughs] I mean, what the f*** do I have to do? The pressure’s off!

TOC: So you’ve accomplished it all now.
Tracy Letts: [Laughs] Yeah, yeah, I’ve done it all. No. I enjoy the new play, and I think people are going to enjoy it, too, and that’s all I’m worried about. I’ve had a sense that it’s gonna get clobbered critically.

TOC: Why clobbered?
Tracy Letts: Just ’cause that’s the nature of things, right? You build something up and then you tear something down. Nothing I can do about it.
Asked specifically about Superior Donuts and its take on how Chicago's changed, Letts says:

The city’s changed a lot. I’m not very expert in saying how it’s changed. Nor is my play about urban gentrification -- Jesus. I keep reading this, and it sounds so f***ing dry, you know? It’s about the people in a donut shop. Urban gentrification is an element of it. Maybe the city hasn’t changed so much as I have. When I moved here, I was a broke motherf***er working in storefront theaters and s***, lucky to get those jobs. Now I’m a hugely wealthy old fat man.
Directed by Steppenwolf ensemble member Tina Landau, Superior Donuts features an outstanding cast that includes Jon Michael Hill (2006's The Unmentionables), James Vincent Meredith (2005's The Pain And The Itch, 2007's The Crucible and 2008's Carter's Way)and Yasen Peyankov (2006's The Pillowman and 2007's The Diary Of Anne Frank) with Jane Alderman, Kate Buddeke (2003-04's Gypsy on Broadway), Cliff Chamberlain, Michael Garvey, Robert Maffia and Michael McKean (2007-08's The Homecoming on Broadway).

I've been told that the play is actually quite heartwarming. Yes. From Tracy Letts.

Steppenwolf provides its own overview for this 2 hour and 15 minute work:

Arthur Pryzbyszewski owns a decrepit donut shop in the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago. Franco Wicks, a black teenager who is his only employee, wants to change the shop for the better. Steppenwolf concludes the season with acclaimed ensemble member Tracy Letts' provocative world premiere comedy about the challenges of embracing the past and the redemptive power of friendship.

UPDATE (June 19, 2008, 1:00 p.m. EDT): Castmember Jon Michael Hill blogs about what it's like to work with Tracy Letts and Michael McKean, saying:
This is as excited about a play that I have ever been. A lot of it has to do with Tracy and Michael McKean. I have two reasons you want to work with them too:
To bask in their aura of brilliance and hope that some of it rubs off
To laugh so hard that you can no longer tell what kind of sound your body is making (I laugh incredibly hard)
I'll be basking in all their auras with the opening night performance of Superior Donuts on June 29, and as I stated earlier this year, this play ranks at the top of my list for shows I'm most eager to see. Now, one half year later, I'm downright excited.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

Click here for tickets.
Related Stories:
Looking Forward: The SOB Top Five (January 2, 2008)

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At 19 June, 2008, Anonymous BroadwayBaby said...

Michael McKean is one TV actor who has made a wonderful transition to stage work. I've seen him Pajama Game on Broadway and in South Pacific (as Billis) in LA. I actually liked his portrayal of Billis better than Danny Burstein's.

At 19 June, 2008, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

BB, He was exceptional in The Homecoming. Can't help but wonder whether he was thinking/hoping this might also make it to New York someday.

At 19 June, 2008, Anonymous BroadwayBaby said...

Incidentally, his drama teacher in high school told him he could never have a career in theatre...

At 27 June, 2008, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Just goes to show you, right?!


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