Friday, September 11, 2009

A Broadway First

On Tuesday night at the Red Eye Grill, the producers of Superior Donuts hosted the first ever blogger media roundtable for a Broadway play. The show, by Pulitzer Prize winner Tracy Letts and directed by Tina Landau, deals with the friendship of Arthur Przybyszewski, who owns a decrepit donut shop, and his employee, a black teenager named Franco Wicks, who wants to improve the shop. Superior Donuts debuted at the Steppenwolf Theatre Company last summer.

There were several tables set up at the restaurant. Though Michael McKean and Tracy Letts never made it to my table, overall the evening was a success, made complete by donuts (the title always makes me crave them).

A pleasant surprise to the evening was the presence of Michael Feinstein. It was announced just the day before that he would be returning to Broadway for the first time since 1990 in a new solo show, tentatively titled All About Me. Feinstein says that he has been offered roles on Broadway over the years, but didn't want to do something people would expect of him. He envisions the show as an homage to Broadway music and where it is going.

The cast of Superior Donuts are all very excited to bring this work to New York. I spoke to a few of them:
Jon Michael Hill (Franko Wicks) joined Steppenwolf in 2007. He says, "I'm not as funny as Franco," and claims he was cast because of his young age. He credits director Tina Landau, Letts, and co-star Michael McKean for bringing out the best in him. I have a feeling he's just being humble, but I suppose I'll have the chance to see soon enough.

James Vincent Meredith (Officer James Hailey) is making his Broadway debut and is still getting used to the city. When asked what he's most excited about being on Broadway, he honestly answered that (in addition to getting to work on the play for a second time) he is looking forward to famous people coming see the show and meeting them afterward.

Kate Buddeke (Officer Randy Osteen) is based in Chicago, though she does a lot of work in New York. She says of the differences between Chicago and New York audiences, "If you get a standing ovation in Chicago, you know you deserve it." She is not a member of the Steppenwolf Company, but says that Chicago is very ensemble based and everyone is supportive of each other. She's known most of the cast for years and everyone gets along very well. Samuel Stricklen, the understudy for Hill and Meredith, reiterated Buddeke's sentiments about the cast. He had just started rehearsals the day before and says that everyone has been very helpful and welcoming.

If the camaraderie between the cast is any indication, this should be yet another great showcase for ensemble work. Click here for more information on Superior Donuts.

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