When Trustus Co-Founder Jim Thigpen directed the first Trustus show Luv in 1985, he did not know what to expect for the future of the company. Twenty-seven years later, Trustus Theatre is not only still in existence, but has grown into an institution of professional and provocative entertainment in the Midlands. In his last season as Artistic Director, Thigpen wanted his "Swan Song" to be the Tony and Pulitzer Prize winning August: Osage County - a show that many theatre fans call one of the most breathtaking evenings they have experienced in the last 5 years. August: Osage County opened on the Trustus Main Stage at 8:00pm on Friday, October 21st.
Written by Steppenwolf Company Member Tracy Letts (Bug, Superior Doughnuts, Joe the Killer), August: Osage County is a portrait of a dysfunctional American family at its finest-and absolute worst. When the patriarch of the Weston clan disappears one hot summer night, the family reunites at the Oklahoma homestead, where long-held secrets are unflinchingly and uproariously revealed. This audacious play combines epic tragedy with black comedy, dramatizing three generations of unfulfilled dreams and unspoken secrets with not one of its thirteen characters emerging unscathed.
First produced by Chicago's highly lauded Steppenwolf Company, August: Osage County moved to Broadway in 2007 receiving the Tony for "Best New Play" and the script won the coveted Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2008. "August is probably the most exciting new American play Broadway has seen in years," wrote critic Charles Isherwood in The New York Times in 2007. "Oh, forget probably: It is, flat-out, no asterisks and without qualifications, the most exciting new American play Broadway has seen in years. Fiercely funny and bitingly sad, this turbo-charged tragicomedy [...] doesn't just jump-start the fall theater season [...it] throws it instantaneously into high gear." Trustus' goal is to bring this excitement to the theatre scene in Columbia by producing a show that other theatre companies shy away from due to its challenges of requiring top-notch actors, direction, and technical support. With relish, Trustus will produce this extraordinary theatrical work in their 27th Season.
Director Jim Thigpen assembled a cast of critically acclaimed actors who are no strangers to the Trustus stage in its 27 years of existence. Playing Beverly Weston, the patriarch who goes missing, is Ron Hale - who audiences will remember from recurring roles on network television's Ryan's Hope and General Hospital. Libby Campbell Turner (Sealed for Freshness) takes on the role of Violet - the pill-popping and scathingly unrelenting matriarch. Erin Wilson, who studied with Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago, returns from a long hiatus from South Carolina stages to play Ivy - one of the Weston sisters harboring a controversial familial secret. Popular Columbia actors Paul Kaufmann (Assassins) and Stann Gwynn (Doubt) take on the roles of an in-law and a fiancé who add to the Weston family chaos, while Trustus newcomer Sarah Crouch (Swing '39) plays the adolescent Jean who represents the youngest generation. Trustus Company members Dewey Scott-Wiley (The Kathy and Mo Show), Kevin Bush (Rent, Assassins), Gerald Floyd (Jewtopia), Robin Gottlieb (Jewtopia, Rent), Elena Martinez-Vidal (The Kathy and Mo Show), Joe Morales (Our Lady of 121st Street), and Ellen Rodillo-Fowler (Third Finger, Left Hand) round out the cast and the rest of the inexorable Weston clan.
Tracy Letts' August: Osage County promises to be one of the most powerful theatrical offerings this year. This production boasts an award-winning script, a talented and highly lauded cast, the time-proven thoughtful direction of Trustus Artistic Director Jim Thigpen, and the highly imaginative work of Chicago-based designer Todd Clark. Undoubtedly, Columbia audiences will be in for one of the most breathtaking evenings they have witnessed on Columbia stages in a while.
August: Osage County opened Friday, October 21st at 8:00pm and runs through Saturday, November 12th, 2011. Shows on Thursdays start at 7:30pm, Fridays & Saturdays at 8:00pm, and Sundays at 3:00pm. Tickets are $20 on Thursdays, $22.50 on Fridays & Saturdays, and $17.50 on Sundays.
Trustus Theatre is located at 520 Lady Street, behind the Gervais St. Publix. Parking is available on Lady St. and on Pulaski St. The Main Stage entrance is located on the Publix side of the building.
For more information or reservations call the box office Tuesdays through Saturdays 1-6 pm at 803-254-9732. Visit www.trustus.org for all show information and season info.
ALL PHOTOS BY TODD CLARK
Paul Kaufmann, Libby Campbell Turner, Dewey Scott-Wiley, & Robin Gottlieb
Erin Wilson, Dewey Scott-Wiley, Paul Kaufmann, & Libby Campbell Turner
Erin Wilson, Libby Campbell Turner, Robin Gottlieb, and Stann Gwynn