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Letts’ ‘August’ hits Broadway in fall

Drama follows family reunion in Oklahoma

Chicago’s legit buzz-magnet of the summer, “August: Osage County,” makes the jump to Broadway in the fall, beginning perfs at the Imperial Theater in October.

Commercial producers Jeffrey Richards, Jean Doumanian, Steve Traxler and Jerry Frankel will produce the latest play by Tracy Letts (“Bug,” “Killer Joe”), in association with Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theater Company, where the show opened in July. Rialto production is capitalized at $2.4 million.

The 13-member Steppenwolf ensemble (including Deanna Dunagan and Amy Morton, both of whom received particularly strong notices in the Chi press) will reprise their roles on the Rialto. Anna D. Shapiro (“The Pain and the Itch”), helmer of the Chicago production, also will direct the Gotham incarnation.

Clocking in at three hours and 20 minutes, Letts’ drama follows a family reuniting in rural Oklahoma after the disappearance of their patriarch.

The play has stirred up early Pulitzer speculation from Chicago legiters, and the show got a profile boost from a recent, favorable review in the New York Times. (Letts was on the shortlist for the Pulitzer in 2004 for “Man From Nebraska.”)

New York home for “August,” the 1,400-seat Imperial, is traditionally a musical house (and recently hosted straight-play disappointment “Coram Boy”), but producer Richards said the show fits the space nonetheless.

“It’s a very large play,” he said. “There’s a cast of 13, and a three-story house that fills the stage. It’s an event play.”

“August” begins previews Oct. 30 for a Nov. 20 opening. Show doesn’t look fated to spend more than a year at the Imperial: The theater is skedded to house the New York production of hit London tuner “Billy Elliot” in fall 2008.

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