Cancer, drug addiction, abandonment, resentment. For a play billed as a comedy, albeit a dark one, these are tough issues. But that’s what the cast of the Funky Little Theater Co.’s latest production is exploring in its staging of Tracy Letts’ dramedy “August: Osage County.”
You might remember this tale of a Midwestern family’s secrets from the 2014 film starring Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts. Streep played the pill-popping mama and Roberts was her bitter oldest daughter. Each received an Oscar nomination for her role.
If you haven’t seen the movie, theater artistic director and “August: Osage County” director Chris Medina suggests first taking in this stage version, which has never been performed in Colorado Springs. It opens Friday and runs Thursdays through Saturdays through June 1.
“I’d call it Thanksgiving on crack or hyperspeed. It’s labeled as a dark comedy, but the movie was just a lot of mean people being mean to each other. However, it’s a powerhouse vehicle for female actors,” Medina said. “Our cast has been able to wrap their heads around the comedic moments. Because you have to laugh, or it’s just too much. It feels like at least there has to be some humor, or what’s the point?”
Local actress Karen Grafton Anderson commands the role of Violet, the family matriarch, while Elizabeth Kahn-Lanning portrays eldest daughter Barbara.
“Our cast is probably one of the greatest groups I’ve been able to work with,” said Medina, who plays a small role in the production.
Roy Ballard, who teaches technical theater, design and acting at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, designed the two-story set, which Medina describes as so memorable it’s “almost like a character.”
The Funky Little Theater Co., 1367 Pecan St., prides itself on tackling a diverse mix of programming. After this play comes the upbeat musical “Spamalot” (July 19-Aug. 17) to round out the theater’s fifth season. The group has survived on ticket sales alone, but now, having recently received nonprofit status, it can pay casts and crews.
“We’ve been doing it for the love of it. We were able to keep the lights on, and we’re very blessed,” Medina said. “Now we’re excited to hopefully start paying our artists.”
MICHELLE KARAS, THE GAZETTE, MICHELLE.KARAS@GAZETTE.COM