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Steppenwolf's August: Osage County Wins Big at The Tony Awards

August Osage CountySteppenwolf Theatre Company's critically-acclaimed American play August: Osage County by Steppenwolf ensemble member Tracy Letts and directed by ensemble member Anna D. Shapiro, won big at the 2008 Tony Awards garnering 5 awards including:

  • Best Play - Tracy Letts
  • Best Leading Actress - Deanna Dunagan
  • Best Direction - Anna D. Shapiro
  • Best Featured Actress - Rondi Reed
  • Best Scenic Design - Todd Rosenthal

  • On the acceptance of Best Play, August: Osage County playwright Tracy Letts comically stated: "Writing is better than acting, you get to use your words, you don't have to be there 8 times a week, and I can guarantee you that this moment beats the hell out of auditioning for Jag”.  He also went on to thank the Chicago community and said "A special thanks to our Chicago theater community. They are the ones who've made this possible."

    Deanna Dunagan, winner of the Best Leading Actress award, summed up the wild ride year by stating "This whole year has been entirely unexpected and astonishing. When we started rehearsals in Chicago a year ago on August: Osage County, none of us dreamed we would be here. I certainly didn't. After thirty-four years in regional theatre, I never even thought about it...I watched on TV like everyone else. But Tracy Letts wrote a brilliant new American play, and Shapiro brilliantly directed it, Steppenwolf mounted it, the Chicago theatergoers ate it up- made us a hit, which interested the New York producers. We came to New York, and New York has embraced us so enthusiastically and hearts full. I can't get over the reception we've had here."

    "Steppenwolf is enormously proud of the Tony winners and nominees for August: Osage County,” comments Steppenwolf Artistic Director Martha Lavey. “The play, written and directed by Steppenwolf ensemble members with a cast featuring ensemble actors, was commissioned by and premiered at our theater in Chicago. We are deeply grateful to our Chicago audiences for their ongoing support of our theater that has allowed us to become a premier American theater for the development and production of new work,” adds Lavey.

    Other past non-Tony awards for August: Osage County include:

  • 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Drama-Tracy Letts
  • Three 2008 Outer Critics Circle Awards including:
        Outstanding New Broadway Play,
        Outstanding Director of a Play - Anna D. Shapiro
        Outstanding Actress in a Play—Deanna Dunagan
  • Six 2007 Joseph Jefferson Awards including:
  •     Best Production-Play
        Best Ensemble
        Best Principal Actress - Deanna Dunagan
        Best Director - Anna D. Shapiro
        Best Scenic Designer - Todd Rosenthal
        Best New Work-Play - Tracy Letts.

    August: Osage County is currently playing at Broadway’s Music Box Theatre (239 West 45th Street), following its premiere and sold-out run at Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre Company.  The National Tour of August: Osage County will begin at the Curran Theatre in San Francisco in August 2009. Subsequent engagements will be announced shortly.

    Also in the Tony Awards spotlight was the Chicago Shakespeare Theater which was the recipient of the 2008 Regional Theatre Tony Award. One of the most coveted honors in the entertainment industry, the Regional Theatre Tony Award honors a nonprofit professional regional theatre company in the United States that has displayed a continuous level of artistic achievement contributing to the growth of theatre nationally. It is awarded by The Broadway League and the American Theatre Wing based upon a recommendation by the American Theatre Critics Association and is accompanied by a grant of $25,000 sponsored by Visa, U.S.A.

    In accepting the Tony Award, Artistic Director Barbara Gaines thanked the American Theatre Critics Association, the American Theatre Wing and The Broadway League and reflected on Chicago Shakespeare’s journey to the Tony: "This moment runs a close second to the day twenty years ago when we produced Henry V on the roof of an English pub overlooking Chicago’s Lincoln Park. Without that risky moment, this celebratory moment would not have come to pass, and we only could have taken that risk in Chicago, a world class city, a place where the arts are cherished and where theater is celebrated with generosity and passion."

    The Regional Theatre awards began in 1976 and have continued every year since then, helping to promote what are often the incubators of new productions. Chicago Shakespeare is the fourth Chicago theater to win the regional theater Tony. Prior Chicago theatre winners include:

  • Steppenwolf Theatre - 1985
  • Goodman Theatre - 1992
  • Victory Gardens Theater - 2001
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