The Drama Group to stage ‘Superior Donuts’
By Don Snider February 13, 2013 2:30PM
The Drama Group's "Superior Donuts" features Chuck Cairns (left) as Arthur and Cameron Moseberry as Franco. | Diane Kaffka photo
◆ 7:30 p.m. Feb. 15-16 and 21-23 and 2 p.m.
Feb. 17 and 24
◆ Studio Theatre,
330 W. 202nd St.,
◆ Tickets, $19 for adults, $18 for seniors, $15 for students with identification
◆ (708) 755-3444;
◆ This show is not recommended for children because it contains adult language
Updated: March 16, 2013 6:09AM
Cathie Drakulich, like many members of community theater groups, said she gets her inspiration from critically acclaimed professional productions.
“I’m a Steppenwolf Theatre season ticket-holder,” she said. “I saw ‘Superior Donuts’ there in 2008 and absolutely loved it.”
Drakulich said she left Steppenwolf in Chicago that night fantasizing about what part she might want to play if the Drama Group were to stage the show.
As it turns out, she will direct the comedy-drama “Superior Donuts” when it opens at the Studio Theatre in Chicago Heights on Feb. 15.
“I spent nine years directing children’s shows,” she said, with a quick laugh. “Now they’re trusting me with an adult show.”
Drakulich has plenty of adult acting experience, though.
She made her Drama Group debut in “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” in 1991.
Drakulich did take some acting time off for several years while she sang in a local band.
That was her after-hours gig while teaching at Thornton Fractional South High School in Lansing.
Her big acting revival came in the Drama Group’s “The Great American Trailer Park Musical” in 2012.
Drakulich said “Superior Donuts” inspired her because of playwright Tracy Letts’ “beautiful writing” and the story’s Chicago setting and authenticity.
Letts’ play “August: Osage County” originated at Steppenwolf and became a hit on Broadway.
Taking place in a changing Uptown Chicago neighborhood, “Superior Donuts” involves a doughnut shop that has fallen on hard times.
Among new businesses on the block is a Starbucks cafe that is pulling business away.
But mostly the story is about the aging owner, Arthur Przbyszewski, who resists change.
Arthur is an unreformed hippie who had fled to Canada during the Vietnam War.
After amnesty, he returned to Chicago to run his parents’ shop. They have passed away and he is now a divorcee who has an estranged daughter.
In soliloquies, he longs for the business, his life and the area to be like it was in the 1970s.
Arthur hires Franco Wicks, an energetic young black man to help run the shop.
Franco comes in with his own ideas about livening up the dingy place. His suggestions include changing some of the doughnut ingredients.
Immediately they conflict and as a result, both lives are changed.
As with any new director, Drakulich said she sweated over auditions. But she didn’t need to do so.
In the critical lead role of Arthur she cast stalwart Drama Group veteran Chuck Cairns, fresh from his outstanding performance in “Twelve Angry Men.”
For the role of Franco, she landed Cameron Moseberry, a 24-year-old speech coach at Homewood-Flossmoor High School in Flossmoor.
“He wowed me during auditions,” she said of Moseberry.
And what’s a doughnut shop without police as regulars?
Desiree Chapleau, of Chicago Heights, a local acting veteran, plays officer Randy Osteen.
Meanwhile, Robert Jefferson, of Park Forest, makes his Drama Group debut as officer James Hailey.
The cast also includes Paul E. Milord, of Lansing, as Max, a Russian immigrant who provides comic relief, and Karen Cassin, of Beecher, as a bag lady.
Also among the shop patrons are James Kenjorski, of Chicago, as Luther; Michael Fisher, of Tinley Park, as Kevin; and Joel Wengren, of Lansing, as Arthur’s nephew Kiril.
Deb Brunette Cairns is assistant director.
Aside from the cast, Drakulich said she is thrilled with the community response to the show’s needs.
Jason Kaplan has volunteered as fight coordinator for one of the intense scenes. Steppenwolf even offered a loan of some prop pieces.
And to give the play some authentic pastries, Hi-Way Bakery in South Chicago Heights, will provide real sweets. Some will be sold at intermission.
“I’m shocked and flattered,” Drakulich said — sweetly, of course.
Don Snider is a local freelance writer.
MAX: Paul E. Milord, of Lansing
RANDY: Desiree Chapleau, of Chicago Heights
JAMES: Robert Jefferson, of Park Forest
LADY: Karen Cassin, of Beecher
ARTHUR: Chuck Cairns, of Park Forest
FRANCO: Cameron Moseberry, of Flossmoor
LUTHER: James Kenjorksi, of Chicago
KEVIN: Michael Fisher, of Tinley Park
KIRIL: Joel Wengren, of Lansing