‘Donuts’ remains superior after another remount
Mary-Arrchie Theatre presents
Review by Keith Glab
Following an extended run at Angel Island Theatre this spring and successfully bringing the show to Arlington Heights in July, Mary-Arrchie Theatre is remounting Superior Donuts, the best-selling show in its 27-year history, at The Royal George Cabaret.
Little has changed with the venue. The Royal George provides the intimate setting necessary to bring out the realism and humor of Tracy Letts’ wonderfully authentic script about the friendship between a stagnant Uptown donut shop owner and an aspiring novelist who is involved with the wrong people. The set looks essentially the same, though the layout differs enough to have altered the blocking.
Preston Tate, Jr. brings to the role of Franco Wicks the same honest energy tempered with deadpan humor that drives the show. Just as Arthur Przybyszewski describes Franco’s great American novel, so too is Superior Donuts “completely engaging from start to finish.” The only time the action slows is during Arthur’s soliloquies about his past. These serve as insights to his character that can’t be explicitly revealed in the play’s dialogue due to Arthur’s private nature, but an actor of Richard Cotovsky’s caliber adds enough subtext to his performance to make these soliloquies somewhat superfluous.
Cotovsky, the founding member and artistic director of Mary-Arrchie Theatre, makes Arthur into a deeply complex character. Despite his face being mostly obscured by beard, Cotovsky is able to convey a wide range of emotions with just facial expression. His chemistry with Tate and the female cop who frequents the shop (Millie Hurley) is genuine. Paige Smith and Bradford Stevens excel at their comic delivery, but also capture serious moments with aplomb. The character of Luther, realized by Karl Potthoff, is more than just a one-note debt-collector. Even Bryan Kelly establishes a textured character within the two or three lines of English dialogue his character Kiril gets.
Two of the original cast members were replaced in this remount. Christopher Borek makes Kevin an understated menace similar to how Dereck Garner played the role in the original production, while Joanna Maclay brings a new take on Lady, giving her greater lucidity than Susan Monts-Bologna’s portrayal. (The makeup on her this time is too heavy for a homeless person.)
Opening night featured some surprisingly sloppy tech work, with a sound cue going off when it wasn’t supposed to as well as several lighting blunders. Assuming that this is ironed out for the rest of the run, there is no excuse not to take this additional opportunity to experience Superior Donuts for the first time. Even if you caught this delight during its first run (or the original Steppenwolf production), you’ll enjoy going back for seconds.
Superior Donuts continues through November 25th at Royal George Cabaret, 1641 N. Halsted (map), with performances Wednesdays-Saturdays at 8pm, plus Saturdays and Sundays at 3pm. Tickets are $40-$50, and are available by phone (773-704-6000) or online through TicketMaster.com (check for half-price tickets at Goldstar.com). More information at MaryArrchie.com. (Running time: 2 hours 10 minutes, includes an intermission)
Photos by Greg Rothman
Richard Cotovsky (Arthur Przybyszewski), Preston Tate, Jr. (Franco Wicks), Christopher Borek (Kevin Magee), Millie Hurley (Randy), Bryan Kelly (Kiril), Joanna Maclay (Lady Boyle), Karl Potthoff (Luther), Paige Smith (Max), Bradford Stevens (James)
behind the scenes
Matt Miller (director); Jenniffer Thusing and Robert Groth (set design); Stefin Seberl (costumes); Matthew Gawryk (lighting); Joe Court (sound design); Katherine Greenleaf (props), David Woolley (fight design); Jim Stevens (asst. director), Alison Barnes (asst. stage manager), Jennifer McLendon (stage manager); Carlo Garcia (producing director); Allie Kunkler (hair & makeup design); Greg Rothman (photos)