Right about now, I'm somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean en route to my second favorite city for seeing great theatre: London.
With the value of the dollar markedly better than it was a mere six months ago (essentially $1.54 per £1, versus the $2.05 I paid last April), I'm defying conventional wisdom that suggests no one is traveling far from home during this time of economic uncertainty.
My reason for going? Not only have I spent the majority of my Thanksgivings in London over the last 14 years, making this my own little holiday tradition, but this year, there's an extraordinary excuse. I'm flying to London so I can finally take in an opening night for Steppenwolf's August: Osage County. Barring any emergency, my third time attempt should prove to be the charm.
You see, even though I had tickets for the production's Chicago premiere a year ago last July, I found myself unable to attend, ironically due to a family function. But of course, once I caught Tracy Letts' modern masterpiece in early August 2007, I was effusive in my praise.
So taken was I with the show that I arranged to take in the transfer's opening night on Broadway. But a funny thing happened on the way to that auspicious occasion: the stagehands were striking, causing the Great White Way opening for August: Osage County to be postponed to a date when I was unavailable. Nevertheless, I managed to see what would become both a Pulitzer Prize and Tony-winning Best Play, first at its original Rialto home in the Imperial Theatre, and then again during its Tony-winning weekend at its current Music Box Theatre home.
While August: Osage County is still playing there, albeit to capacity crowds of just under 60%, the original cast -- including Tony winners Deanna Dunagan and Rondi Reed -- has moved on. But now, if you're willing to travel across the pond to London, you can see most of them recreate their roles one more time at the National Theatre, once again under the brilliant Tony-winning direction of Anna D. Shapiro.
In a recent What's On Stage story, Shapiro finally explains the etymology of the play's unusual title:
"August" means the end of something, while "Osage" is an indigenous people’s term for the place where they live and "County" stands for the colonial assignment by the other people who displaced them. This play had been stewing in Tracy Letts’ mind for years and by the time we got to workshops with the company -- we had two of those -- the whole process evolved organically and fairly straightforwardly.I'm looking forward to being part of this next, exciting chapter in the continuing organic evolution of August: Osage County. Even more than being able to cheer the show on at June's Tony ceremonies, there's no place I'm more looking forward to being this year than Wednesday evening's first night performance of August in London.
This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).