The Minutes Review – Tracy Letts Shines Again

Group photo, The Minutes by Tracy Letts, Photo: Michael Brosilow
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A new Tracy Letts play is always an occasion that excites those who know and love his work.  The Minutes currently playing at, Steppenwolf Theatre is no exception and has already been extended to January 7 due to popular demand.  The play has a lot to say about our world today and the more people who can see it, the better  – it leaves the viewer a lot of issues to think about and to discuss. It is a comedy to begin with but not so much to end with.  The after-play discussion is highly recommended.

Bittany Burch (Ms. Johnson)

This highly anticipated world premiere production of The Minutes by Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning ensemble member Tracy Letts is directed by Artistic Director and Tony Award winner Anna D. Shapiro. The Minutes is a political comedy about small-town politics and real-world power which features the return of six ensemble members Kevin Anderson (Mr. Breeding), Ian Barford (Mr. Carp), Francis Guinan (Mr. Oldfield), James Vincent Meredith (Mr. Blake), Sally Murphy (Ms. Matz) and William Petersen (Mayor Superba) with Brittany Burch (Ms. Johnson), Cliff Chamberlain (Mr. Peel), Danny McCarthy (Mr. Hanratty), Penny Slusher (Ms. Innes) and Jeff Still (Mr. Assalone).

Cliff Chamberlain (Mr. Peel) returns

In a small town city hall, one that is especially large and grand, a weekly meeting takes place.  Mr. Peel (Danny McCarthy) arrives at the meeting having missed the week before because he attended his mother’s funeral.  He has recently moved to town, and was almost surprised to have been elected.  Very quickly the personalities of the council are revealed.  In the discussion of the fate of a proposed park, the various political persuasions of the members are revealed.

Within the play is the question of what is truth and then the question follows of what difference does the past make and at what sacrifice will one fight to uphold the truth.

Pictured (L to R) Jeff Still (Mr. Assalone), Danny McCarthy (Hanratty), Cliff Chamberlain (Mr. Peel), ensemble member William Petersen (Mayor Superba) and ensemble member James Vincent Meredith (Mr. Blake)

Artistic Director Anna D. Shapiro shared that, “The minutes explores how we define history and the stories that we tell ourselves.  Many of our ensemble members have returned to dig into Tracy’s funny and surprising new work.  Being in the Steppenwolf rehearsal room is one of my favorite places to be, and surrounded by the incredible cast and so many ensemble members—it’s simply the best environment a director could ask for”.  The direction of this work kept the pace just right, the humor where it needed to be and the suspense building to the climax.

I found it interesting on Thanksgiving Day that there were several entries in Facebook that told the story of that special day, the First Thanksgiving very differently than the story that I grew up believing.  This difference has a strong relevance in the play.  This is a brilliant and powerful play, wonderfully acted and staged.  Go see it.

 

Pictured (L-R) Cliff Chamberlain (Mr. Peel) and Wiliam Petersen (Mayor Superbo

The Minutes production team includes David Zinn (scenic design), Ana Kuzmanic (costume design), Brian MacDevitt (lighting design) and Andre Pluess (sound design and original music). Additional credits include Christine D. Freeburg (stage manager), Elise Hausken (assistant stage manager), JC Clementz (casting director) and Aaron Carter (artistic producer).

 

Tickets to the extension ($20-$105) go on sale Friday, November 24 at 1pm through Audience Services at 312-335-1650 or steppenwolf.org. Classic and Flex Memberships are still available and offer discounted prices and flexibility; more information at steppenwolf.org/memberships website.

New and pleasant, the Front Bar: Coffee and Drinks is a great place to grab a drink, have a bite and meet up with friends and collaborators. Check the front-bar website

Photos: Michael Brosilow