Jeffrey Richards, lead producer of Tracy Letts’ Superior Donuts on Broadway, dropped some sad news to ArtsBeat on Thanksgiving, announcing that the production will close on January 3, 2010. Letts’ previous play, August: Osage County, ran for over a year and a half, garnering critical acclaim, financial success and numerous awards (including a Pulitzer and a couple arm-fulls of Tonys). So what went wrong with Donuts, which will be closing about three months after it opened?
Well, for one ticket sales haven’t been terribly good, peaking around 70 percent of capacity when the show opened and more often hovering around 50 percent. The show’s more modest scope and tone of guarded optimism, compared to the epic family breakdown of August, doesn’t seem to appeal to quite so broad an audience.
As our own Henry Stewart intimated in his review, though, Donuts addresses many of the same issues of social breakdown, using a small group (customers at an Uptown Chicago donut shop) as a shorthand for the whole country, but adding a dash of Obama-era optimism where Letts previously indulged Bush-era defeatism. No matter what the Times says, Donuts is an excellent show and well worth seeing.
(photo credit: Robert J. Saferstein)