Meet the Director and Cast of “August: Osage County”

A remarkable director and cast present August: Osage County.  Opens Friday, March 29.  The “All-American Family?”

Tracy Letts’ “August: Osage County” runs March 29-April 13 at  James Lee Community Center. Photo by Rob Cuevas.

Michael Donahue. Photo by Chip Gertzog.


Michael Donahue is a current PPF board member and has been actively directing and acting with PPF since 2009.  Also, an award-winning director, Michael directed Front Page in last year’s season as well as productions of Calendar Girls and House of Blue Leaves.  Michael has an MFA in Theater Directing and was Artistic Director for Playhouse on the Square’s Professional Theatre for Youth in Memphis, TN and Associate Artistic Director for HITT Productions.

“I wanted to direct August: Osage County because [it’s] about a family and all of the complex relationships and secrets that lurk beneath told with a sense of dark humor.  I love to direct theatrically challenging and complex plays.  Especially, the challenge of bringing to life these characters with all of their flaws so that the audience will have empathy for these people while laughing at the dark humor.”

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We asked the following cast members, “Why did you want to be in this production of August: Osage County.”  Here is  a little more about them, and their answers.  

Mary Zuzik Andrechik (Karen Weston) has been acting on stage since the age of 13 and has performed all over the country.  Favorite roles include Sorel in Hay Fever (CA — Aldea Award nomination), Jessica in Flights of Fancy (CT, a role she originated), and Antipholus of Ephesus in Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors (TX).  Mary most recently performed at The Kennedy Center in the Page to Stage Festival in September. “I wanted to perform in ‘August: Osage County’ for very selfish reasons — I wanted to act in a solid drama.  My resumé is almost entirely comedy, which I love to do, but I needed a change and a challenge.  This play is one of the best because it has that perfect balance of laughter and tears that holds your attention and makes the audience FEEL. Everyone should come see this show because it will engage you.  You will see your own family in the Weston family in many ways, and in many other ways, you will be grateful to note the differences!  You will be thoroughly entertained.”

Deborah Davidson (Mattie Fay Aiken) has been seen as Elder Woman in Fifty Ways (2018 Capital Fringe), Mme. Renaud in La Cage aux Folles (McLean), Hattie in Follies (TAP), Mrs. Boyle in Prelude to a Kiss (Foundry), Gabrielle in Dear World (American Century); roles in The Laramie Project (Foundry); four Hexagons. One-woman shows: With A Song In My Heart, I’m Still Here, and A Sorta Cabaret.  Yale Cabaret Fellow.  Select Wisconsin roles: Rose in Gypsy, White Witch in Narnia, Alice in Billy, (U.S. premiere), Sister Berthe in The Sound of Music. “Before moving to DC, I was a member of a community-based repertory company in Madison, Wisconsin, and made wonderful, life-long friends while learning my craft. I hope for the same PPF. And to play Mattie Fae! She’s an actor’s dream—funny, sad, nasty, neurotic—one might even call her ‘complicated.’  If you think you come from a dysfunctional family (and don’t we all?) this play will feel cozily familiar and make you feel smug that there are at least a few dysfunctional bullets your family has dodged.”

Beth Gilles-Whitehead (Barbara Fordham) is a long-time member of PPF.  She most recently directed A Christmas Carol, California Suite and To Kill a Mockingbird (WATCH nominated for directing). Some of her acting work with PPF has included The White Queen in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Bunny in The House of Blue Leaves, Mame Dennis in Mame (WATCH nomination), Charlotte Hay in Moon Over Buffalo, M’Lynn in Steel Magnolias, and Romaine Vole in Witness for the Prosecution (WATCH nomination). Beth directed All My Sons which received the Ruby Griffith Award for Overall Excellence.  Beth received her MFA in theatre from Cornell University and BA in theatre from the University of Washington in Seattle.  “Ten years ago I directed ‘All My Sons’ by Arthur Miller, and not long after I read ‘August: Osage County.’  I thought to myself, this is the new American family Drama playwright, this is fantastic. The writing was so good, intense, funny, raw, gritty and revealing. The characters interesting and complex, the relationships real, honest and the plot keeps you connected at all points.”

(L-R) Mary Zuzik Andrechik as Karen, David Rawlings as Steve, Nora Rice as Jean, Clint Bagwell as Bill and Beth Gilles-Whitehead as Barbara. Photo by Rob Cuevas.

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Allen Flanigan (Beverly Weston) returns to the stage after a 45-year hiatus. Born in East Windsor Connecticut, Allen grew up delivering newspapers, picking tobacco, and washing dishes at the Coachlight Dinner Theater. A graduate of Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Allen has mainly scratched his performing itch during his adulthood through choir singing and occasional karaoke appearances. “I’m excited about August: Osage County because it’s an intriguing opportunity for me to get reintroduced to live theater.  I think audience members will enjoy ‘August: Osage County’ because the play addresses universally accessible themes about the relationships and dynamics of an extended family without being predictable or clichéd. The script is a heady mix of surprising plot developments, dark, biting humor, and dysfunctional family interactions. I hope the audience finds it to be a riveting and captivating experience.”

Joshua Paul McCreary (Little Charles) is delighted to perform in his second production with PPF. He was last seen in Lovers and Executioners, Ugly Sweaters Beautiful Music with Stagecoach Theatre Company, Peter and the Starcatcher with Reston Community Players, and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat with City of Fairfax Theatre Company. He thanks every acting teacher he ever had at George Mason University for cultivating the artist that he has become. “Ever since I performed some scene work at George Mason University from this script it became an important part of my life. The truth and spirit of the piece is immense, and it has been a bucket list show for me for many years.  It is as important a play about the American family as ‘Long Day’s Journey Into Night’ or ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.’ It is a modern massive masterpiece with raw emotion and healing comedy.” 

David S. Rawlings (Steve Heidebrecht) comes to us courtesy of the US Army, where he is currently stationed in the Pentagon. He is honored to be cast in this brilliant and thought-provoking production, his first show with PPF. David moved here from Vicenza, Italy, where he was active in the Caserma Ederle Soldiers’ Theatre, performing in a number of plays and musicals, including Sweet Charity (ensemble) and Lucky Stiff (ensemble). He most recently appeared in the LTA’s production of Sacrifice (Lieutenant). David has two beautiful daughters and three amazing grandchildren.  “I love being able to portray real people in real situations.  We all know a family, group of people that are what we consider a ‘train-wreck’, but we fail to realize that those ‘train-wrecks’ are fully functioning families with ups and downs, with good and bad times, just like everyone else.  I think this is a show for everyone.  A deep hard look at what makes families unique and what makes us who we are and how we view the outside world.”  

Deborah Davidson as Mattie Fay, Joshua Paul McCreary as Little Charles and John Coscia as Charlie. Photo by Rob Cuevas.

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Lily Pond (Johnna Monevata) is at last graduating from Washington-Lee High School in Arlington this June! She is absolutely thrilled to join this incredibly talented and patient cast and crew in her first show with PPF. Favorite roles include Don Pedro in Funk It Up About Nothin’, Lizzy in Lizzy Strata, Paulina in Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale, and The Woman in the Yellow Dress in Tuck Everlasting: the Musical.  “Having played the mother/teacher/grandmother in almost EVERY single high school production I’ve been in, I was ready to finally act my age!  I see a lot of Johnna in myself: a family-oriented caretaker, fierce protector, kind soul, and patient listener. However, I am known to be quite an opinionated chatterbox, so I’ve enjoyed the challenge of internalizing issues and just being an observer to the madness that is the Weston Family, quietly picking up the pieces behind them.”

Nora Rice (Jean Fordham) lives in Falls Church City and is an 8th grader at The New School in Fairfax. She is so fortunate to be in her second PPF production, having previously performed in The Best Christmas Pageant Ever (Imogene Herdman). Nora also has four Creative Cauldron productions under her belt. “I wanted to branch out. I’ve been doing children’s theater for four years, and I wanted to try something different. I wanted a challenge. So once I saw the ad for the production, I thought to myself, ‘Well hey, Nora, here’s your chance!’ I’d suggest coming to see this because of the many twists and turns. You will be on the edge of your seat for the whole time you’re there.”

Jayne L. Victor (Violet Weston) is excited to be back on the PPF stage.  Most recently she was seen in one of her favorite roles as Sonia in Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike (PPF).  Her prior acting credits include Red Herring, Calendar Girls, House of Blue Leaves, Dinner With Friends, Shadowbox, All My Sons (WATCH nomination), Big Tree Falls and Moon Over Buffalo (PPF); Auntie Mame (LTA) and Hexagon.  Jayne has also directed, decorated sets, and designed props and costumes.  “’August’ presents a portrait of what we all already know in our hearts… one knows what goes on behind closed doors and every family has it’s ‘stuff’.  Beneath the ‘stuff’ is lots of love, support and humor for each other.  And all that ‘stuff’ makes for one wild ride with the Westons.  Since seeing this play when it opened on Broadway I was awestruck by the complexity of the characters and the challenge it would present to play one.  Violet is a tremendous challenge for me because nothing gets past her; don’t ever be fooled by her seemingly confused demeanor. I hope this play makes you think.  I thought it was just my family.  It’s not!”

Andra Whitt (Ivy Weston) is delighted to return to the PPF stage. Favorite past roles include Mollie in last season’s The Front Page, Brooke (Other Desert Cities), Claire (Rumors), Terry (Side Man), and Essie (You Can’t Take It with You). She received the Best Actress award in the 2018 Northern VA One-Act Festival. Her past offstage roles include stage manager, box office manager, and set decorator (2017 WATCH nomination). Her spare time is spent playing recreational floor hockey and serving as the current treasurer of the PPF board. “Tolstoy’s famous opener ‘Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way,’ is one of my favorite quotes when it comes to plays that I enjoy reading and performing in. Most stories about families have so many layers of history that emerge over the course of a show, and the characters in this particular show have such a rich and varied history with everyone else on stage with them. It’s a lot of fun to explore the give-and-take, ups-and-downs, love-and-hate, and the war-and-peace.” 

Mary Zuzik Andrechik as Karen, David Rawlings as Steve. Photo by Rob Cuevas.

Meet the rest of the amazing cast of August: Osage County.

John Coscia (Charlie Aiken) is a founding member and past board member of PPF. He has appeared on this stage many times over the past 20 years and has been nominated for, and won, many WATCH awards for his acting, directing, set designs and set construction. John directed the PPF 2014 production of Of Mice and Men.

Clint Bagwell (Bill Fordham) is a first-timer with PPF.  He was last seen in The Regulars at the Capital Fringe Festival. He is the creator of A Breakup Is Swift which played at the PVD Festival, the Capital Fringe Festival, and theatres in Los Angeles. After training as a visual artist, Clint showed video and installation work at galleries in New York, California, Virginia, and the Netherlands. He received an MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute and a BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University.

David Whitehead (Sheriff Gilbeau) is a veteran member of PPF, having played many roles including Walter Burns in Front Page and Antonio Salieri in Amadeus, which earned him a WATCH nomination for outstanding lead actor in a play. He has also played Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol (twice), Chris in All My Sons, George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life (twice), Gabe in Dinner with Friends and Banjo in The Man Who Came to Dinner. David sits on PPF’s board of directors.