PHOTO: Franco (Sean Philippe) and Arthur (Allan Whitehead) in "Superior Donuts" at Theater On The Edge. (Monica Mulder Photography/courtesy photo)
"It's a wonderful human story that all people of America can enjoy and relate to, regardless of background or belief." - by Marco DiGeorge
Broadway World Orlando's interview with Theater On The Edge Artistic Director Marco DiGeorge about SUPERIOR DONUTS
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BWW Interview: Catching up with Marco DiGeorge about SUPERIOR DONUTS
By Kimberly Moy
With National Donut Day just passing, SUPERIOR DONUTS is a play about the characters who work and enjoy life around a decrepit donut shop. Written by Tracy Letts in 2008, the play jumped to Broadway in 2009 and is now a sitcom on CBS. The original play is also now appearing at Theater On The Edge. I had a chance to catch up with Artistic Director, Marco DiGeorge about the show.
From what I understand, the main character, Arthur Przybyszewski, is an older gentleman and owns a donut shop that is struggling. It seems fairly simple. Tell me more about the plot and what makes it entertaining.
This is a great story about the American Dream and how it is alive and relevant in all generations and backgrounds. The story centers around Arthur, who owns a runs Superior Donuts, which was opened by his Polish immigrant father over 60 years ago. Throughout the story, we learn about Arthur's past and the things that still haunt him.
Enter Franco Wicks, a young black writer that still believes fully in the American Dream and is trying to make the best of his own bad situation. They quickly form a bond that transcends backgrounds and generations.
This is a funny yet touching story about learning to deal with the past and the healing power of relationship and friendship. Underneath the fairly simply plot lies a very complex human story about love, hope, family, friendship, and the fears that bind us.
There is some cross-generational and cross-racial themes. What do you think makes these topics funny?
For me, the humor is contained in how each character sees the world. Even though they come from different backgrounds and upbringings, they all are still fighting for the same thing... the American Dream. So there is a touching reality there that is surrounded by the comedic moments of misunderstanding.
With all that is going on in the world, what makes SUPERIOR DONUTS relevant comedy?
One of the reasons we wanted to produce this play was because of what is happening in the world... and more specifically... right here in America. SUPERIOR DONUTS is about chasing the American Dream and fighting for the America you want it to be. There is a great piece from a Langston Hughes poem that is used in the play,
"O, yes, I say it plain,
America never was
America to me,
and yet I swear
this oath -
America will be!"
This is the central theme of the play. Even beyond the two main characters of Arthur and Franco, all of the other characters are searching for the same thing, but each in their own way. There is the Russian immigrant who is trying to find success in America with his nephew, Kiril. There are the Chicago cops, Randy and James, who are trying to navigate through day-to-day life. There are the Irish gangsters trying to survive on the lower-rungs of life. There is the homeless woman trying to make the best of her very difficult life.
What has been your favorite part of the rehearsal process so far?
My favorite part of rehearsal has been working with this incredible ensemble cast. Our director, Pam Harbaugh, has infused the themes into all of the actors and characters, creating one central focus for the play. It's been amazing watching it all come together.
In addition, I love witnessing the creativity of our set designer, Sam DiGeorge. She has once again created a hyperrealistic environment for the actors to play in... this time, Superior Donuts, a small donut shop in the northern Uptown Chicago.
Tell me about your casting. It sounds like you need two strong comedic leads. What were you looking for when casting?
When it comes to casting, I look for actors who can bring the truthful human aspects to a role. Even though this play is light in many parts, it also deals with heavy human conflicts too. So I wasn't looking so much for comedic leads, as much as two strong actors that can bring the truth to the roles.
There is a show on CBS that debuted in February based on this plot. Have you seen it? Would fans of the show like the original play?
Funny enough, I have not yet seen the CBS sitcom that is based on this play. That is mostly because I did not want to be influenced by another interpretation, and partly because they took the story in a full comedic direction, and we are incorporating many of the dramatic elements too.
However, I absolutely plan to watch the show when our run is completed. I am looking forward to that.
I think any fans of the sitcom would love to see the play to see where it all began.... to get a full back-story of the characters. I think it would give them a new point-on-view on the characters they know and love, while also introducing them to a few new characters that are not included in the sitcom version.
What is the takeaway from the show?
The takeaway from this show deals with the redemptive power of friendship and the challenges of embracing the past while passing the baton to the future. It's a wonderful human story that all people of America can enjoy and relate to, regardless of background or belief. It is the finding, once again, of the American Dream. And as Mr. Hughes eloquently wrote... American Will Be!
Thank you so much for your time Marco. The show sound entertaining and charming. I can't wait to check it out. SUPERIOR DONUTS runs now through July 2 at Theater On The Edge. For tickets and more information visit http://www.theaterontheedge.org.
Photo credit: Sean Philippe as Franco and Allan Whitehead as Arthur in Superior Donuts at Theater On The Edge © Monica Mulder - www.monicamulder.com