January 19, 2018
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BELFAST -­ Midcoast Actors’ Studio is proud to present the Eastern Maine premiere of Tracy Letts’ August: Osage County, one of the most acclaimed plays of the last decade, winner of the 2008 Tony Award for Best Play and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and an enormous success on Broadway. Tracy Letts’ sprawling saga about three generations of an Oklahoma family has drawn comparisons to the work of American dramatists Eugene O’Neill, Sam Shepard, and Tennessee Williams. In addition, the recent movie adaption garnered Academy Award nominations for both Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts.
Variety describes August: Osage County as a “very juicy…epic evening… (a) richly entertaining dysfunctional ­family juggles the hilarious, the poignant and the appalling on a scale seldom seen.” Los Angeles Times says it is “sensationally entertaining…a feast for actors and
audiences alike.”

The fiercely funny and bitingly sad story, which unfolds over the course of several weeks, tells the story of the Westons, a large extended clan that comes together at their rural Oklahoma homestead when the alcoholic patriarch disappears. Forced to confront unspoken truths and astonishing secrets, the family must also contend with Violet, the acid­tongued, pill­popping mother at the center of this storm. From the very beginning, this dark comedy aggressively exposes the dysfunction of their midwestern family.

The performance contains adult language and subject matter that is not suitable for young children.

“I read the play 3 or 4 years ago,” says director Robin Jones. “What struck me is its truth about how some people try to communicate without saying anything at all. It takes place in a huge 3­story house, and ironically most of the people on stage desperately want to escape that house.”

For founder and Artistic Director Jason Bannister, choosing Osage County as part of MAS’s 2014 season was a no brainer.

“This is one of the greatest plays of the 21st century,” Bannister says. “The story, the language ­­ it pushes boundaries for the cast and the audience. It’s just the type of edgy, formidable work I want to produce.”

Designing and building the massive house is MAS veteran John Bielenberg. Along with set dresser (and wife) Elaine Bielenberg, they have designed a set that embodies a character alongside the cast.

The cast includes some of the strongest acting talent along the midcoast of Maine, from Belfast to Blue Hill. Christine West plays the pill popping matriarch Violet, while Mary Jones takes on her headstrong daughter Barbara. Rounding out the cast is Shari and Frank John, Shelly Curtain, James Tatgenhorst, Marie Stickney, James Clayton, Grace Underhill, Amanda Pomeroy, Rob Bywater, Brian Ross and Jason Bannister.

In addition to Director Jones and the Bielenbergs, the rest of the production staff includes Bannister as producer, Leah Smith as stage manager, Tom Sadowski as light designer, Jay Rosenberg as sound designer, Jen Maher as costume designer, Angela Bonacasa as fight director, and Ivy Lobato and Angela Domenichelli as props supervisors.

August: Osage County opens May 30 and runs through June 8. Fridays and Saturdays are at 7:00 p.m. and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. Performances are at the Troy Howard Stage, 173 Lincolnville Ave. Belfast. The show is three acts and runs 3 hours. There are two intermissions. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at the door with cash, check or credit card. Reservations can be made by calling the box office at 370­7592 or emailing midcoastactors@gmail.com. Preferential seating for those who call and reserve.

On both Saturdays there will be a Oklahoma plains­-style dinner at 6:00 p.m. The menu includes Oklahoma BBQ pot roast, potatoes, cowboy beans, cornbread, sweet tea and lemonade, and watermelon. Dinner is $15 and must be reserved through the box office three days prior to each Saturday.

Midcoast Actors’ Studio is a not­-for-­profit theater group based in Belfast. MAS provides quality theater to the midcoast of Maine. For more information visit midcoastactors.org or visit them on Facebook.