Photo Flash: First Look at AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY at Theatricum Botanicum

Will Geer's Theatricum Botanicum continues its 2015 "Americana" season with August: Osage County, the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning play by Tracy Letts that unflinchingly - and uproariously - exposes the dark side of the Midwestern American family. Mary Jo DuPrey directs for a June 20 opening.

A vanished father. A pill-popping mother. Three sisters harboring shady little secrets. When the large Weston family unexpectedly reunites after Dad disappears, their Oklahoman family homestead explodes in a maelstrom of repressed truths and unsettling secrets that is simultaneously hilarious and tragic.

Letts wrote August: Osage County for Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre Company, where he is a member and where the play premiered in 2007.

"My play is a family story," he explained. "After thirty years of intense artistic collaboration, the Steppenwolf ensemble is another kind of family."

At Theatricum, August: Osage County is also a family affair, with the cast made up of Geer family members and longtime company members who have been working together for decades. The 13-member ensemble includes Ellen Geer as Violet Weston, the drug addicted, scathingly acidic family matriarch; Tim Halligan as Beverly Weston, her husband-gone-missing; Susan Angelo, Abby Craden and Willow Geer as Barbara, Ivy and Karen, the three Weston daughters; Aaron Hendry as Bill, Barbara's husband, and Judy Durkin as Jean, their teen-aged daughter; Mark Lewis as Karen's fiancé, Steve Heidebrecht;Melora Marshall as their aunt, Mattie Fae Aiken; Alan Blumenfeld as uncle Charlie Aiken; and Sam Trueman as "Little" Charles Aiken. Rounding out the cast are Jeanette Godoy as Johnna, the Native American housekeeper, and Paul Stroili as Sheriff Deon Gilbeau.

"What we have seen by doing this play is that the story of this family is pretty universal," Letts told NPR in an interview. "The dinner scene alone: I can tell you that some people are howling with laughter, and other people are in tears crawling under their seats."

Following its premiere at Steppenwolf, August: Osage County transferred almost immediately to Broadway, garnering the 2008 Tony Award for Best Play, Drama Desk Award for Best New Play, Drama League Award for Distinguished Production of a Play, New York Drama Critics' Circle Award for Best Play and Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding New Broadway Play, as well as the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. It was voted the #1 Play of the Year by Time, theAssociated Press, Entertainment Weekly and Time Out New York. In 2014, it was made into a feature film with an all-star cast that included Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Juliette Lewis, Ewan McGregor, Benedict Cumberbatch and Sam Shepard.

Theatricum Botanicum is renowned for its spirited productions of Shakespeare and modern classics in a spectacular outdoor setting. Unlike most theaters in the Los Angeles area that stage continuous runs of a single play, Theatricum, using a company of actors, performs each play on a rotating basis so that it's possible to see all five mainstage plays in a single summer weekend. Theatricum has been named "One of the 50 Coolest Places in Los Angeles" by Buzzmagazine, "One of Southern California's most beguiling theater experiences" by Sunset, and "Best Theater in the Woods" by the LA Weekly. "The enchantment of a midsummer night at Theatricum Botanicum [makes it] crystal clear why audiences have been driving up into the hills since Theatricum's maiden season way backin 1973. Summer Shakespeare doesn't get any better than this," writes StageSceneLA. Says Los Angeles magazine, "The amphitheater feels like a Lilliputian Hollywood Bowl, with pre-show picnics and puffy seat cushions, yet we were close enough to see the stitching on the performers costumes. Grab a blanket and a bottle and head for the hills."

August: Osage County opens on Saturday, June 20 at 7:30 p.m. and continues through Sept. 27. Tickets range from $27-$39.50, with discounts available for students, seniors, the military and AEA members. Will Geer's Theatricum Botanicum is located at 1419 North Topanga Canyon Blvd. in Topanga, midway between Malibu and the San Fernando Valley. For a complete schedule of performances and to purchase tickets, call 310-455-3723 or log

Photos by Miriam Geer

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