Make us your home page

Pulitzer-winning play is a departure for Eight O'Clock Theatre


Audiences have come to know and love Largo's Eight O'Clock Theatre for its splashy Broadway musicals, but change looms this time of year.

August: Osage County, running through Sunday, is a tragi-comedy about a deep, dark, deliriously dysfunctional family. Directed by Christopher Rutherford, it runs three hours and has two intermissions.

"This is an out-of-the-box show for Eight O'Clock," said Leah Hamilton, marketing director. "We are trying to appeal to new audiences. No other community theaters are doing shows like this."

Linda Woodruff Weir, a theater board member, plays the character of Mattie Fae, a mother whose sordid past drives her to constantly berate her adult son, Little Charles (Jonathan Pouliot).

Weir called the Pulitzer Prize winning play by Tracy Letts "a beautiful piece of work.

"It was something we decided to take a chance on."

Michael Mahoney plays Beverly, patriarch of the Weston family. "I'm glad Eight O'Clock is doing this play. I'm singing impaired and don't do musicals," he joked.

But it's the rich complexity of his tragic character that makes his small but important role so compelling. He opens the play by talking openly about his alcoholism and his wife's drug addiction. It is a mutually acceptable arrangement the couple has come to, one that laid their marriage to rest years ago.

It's his apparent suicide that brings their three daughters and other fragmented family members back together to the family home in Oklahoma where they offer their support as well as their spiteful but witty rants.

Donna Donnelly portrays Violet, Beverly's acidic, pill-popping wife. She's undergoing treatment for oral cancer and even though she's zonked throughout most of the play, she retains an indelible talent for verbal abuse.

"She's toxic and has destroyed the entire family and has no remorse because of her drug addiction. My challenge — because the audience won't like her — is to make her interesting, watchable and fascinating," Donnelly said.

Those who have seen the 2013 movie, starring Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts, will note the play is quite different.

"There is more humor in the play than the movie," said Linda Roth-Grayne, who portrays Barbara, the Westons' oldest daughter who struggles simultaneously with her 14-year-old pothead daughter, her crumbling marriage and her crazy out-of-control mother.

"Some will laugh because the lines are funny. Some will laugh out of embarrassment," Roth-Grayne said.

Ben Taylor is her husband Bill, who is having an affair with one of his students.

"Everyone comes into this house with a secret and how they expose it to the other family a member is what makes the play interesting and fun," he said.

Reach Terri Bryce Reeves at

>>if you go

August: Osage County

Eight O'Clock Theatre presents the 2008 Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Tracy Letts

When: Today and Saturday at 8 p.m.; Sunday at 2 p.m.

Where: Largo Cultural Center, 105 Central Park Drive

Tickets: $25.50 for adults, $12.50 students (22 and under with ID), $23 for groups of 10 or more. A city of Largo handling charge of $3.50 will be added to each ticket.

Info: (727) 587-6793 or visit

Pulitzer-winning play is a departure for Eight O'Clock Theatre 08/27/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 27, 2014 6:29pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. From the archives: Account of famed Riggs-King match heightens Tampa mob intrigue


    With the Sept. 29 opening of "Battle of the Sexes" — the movie starring Emma Stone and Steve Carrell about Billie Jean King's landmark 1973 tennis win over Bobby Riggs — we thought there might be renewed interest in this 2013 Peter Jamison story from the Tampa Bay Times.

    Emma Stone as Billie Jean King and Steve Carell as Bobby Riggs in "Battle of the Sexes."  [Melinda Sue Gordon, Fox Searchlight Pictures]
  2. Halloween Horror Nights: 'The Shining,' 'Saw' and more things to give you nightmares at Universal Orlando


    The 27th year of Universal Orlando's Halloween Horror Nights will scare the pants off you -- in the best possible way.

    The scare zone inspired by horror flick Trick r' Treat is one of the most beautiful at this year's Halloween Horror Nights 27.
  3. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Sept. 22


    Arcade Fire: The wildly acclaimed indie rock outfit tour in support of their fifth album, Infinite Content. Presumably, the band will also play songs from their first few albums. Wolf Parade opens. 7 p.m., University of South Florida Sun Dome, 4202 E Fowler Ave., Tampa. $35-$75. (813) 974-3004.

    LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 08:  Musician Win Butler of Arcade Fire performs onstage during The 24th Annual KROQ Almost Acoustic Christmas at The Shrine Auditorium on December 8, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for
  4. What the 10 terms Merriam-Webster just added to the dictionary say about our foodie culture


    Joining "troll" (as in, a rude person on the Internet, not a bridge-dwelling creature), "alt-right" and "dog whistle," 10 food-related words were added to the Merriam-Webster dictionary this week. That's out of 250 new terms, a pretty good ratio that signals the ongoing shift toward a more food-obsessed culture, one …

    IPA is one of the words recently added to the dictionary.
  5. St. Petersburg's newest hotel opens with craft beers, cocktails and Cozy Corners

    Real Estate

    ST. PETERSBURG — Last spring, Ryan Tarrant applied for a job with the new Hyatt Place nearing completion in downtown St. Petersburg. Among the questions an interviewer asked:

    What does this hotel need to succeed?

    Hybar, a bar area with outdoor seating  that will feature craft drinks and Sunday brunch starting Oct. 1, is ready to open at the new Hyatt Place hotel at  25 2nd St. N in downtown St. Petersburg. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]