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Spotlight On: Will LeBow and Karen MacDonald, Stars of ‘Superior Donuts’

By Amy Cavanaugh
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Karen MacDonald and Will LeBow enjoy donuts (credit: Amy Cavanaugh)

Karen MacDonald and Will LeBow enjoy donuts (credit: Amy Cavanaugh)

Renowned Boston actors Will LeBow and Karen MacDonald reunite at The Lyric Stage Company of Boston this month in “Superior Donuts,” Tracy Letts’ play set at a Chicago donut shop. In the play, which runs January 6 through February 4, a donut shop owner hires a young writer to help out with the business. The play deals with race and class relations, among other issues. The actors recently chatted with CBSBoston.com about the play, their long acting relationship, and why they’re excited to work with the Lyric.

LeBow and MacDonald acted together for years at Harvard’s American Repertory Theatre (A.R.T.), which hired a new artistic director in 2009.

“When the artistic management changes in a theater, the actors are instantly the most vulnerable people,” MacDonald says. “We have a contract with the Actors’ Equity Association, while everyone else works for Harvard. So we were turned loose, and it turned out to be a really great thing.”

Both actors have done numerous plays across the country since leaving A.R.T., and “Superior Donuts” is their first at the Lyric.

“Tracy Letts is such an interesting, contemporary playwright,” MacDonald says. “The writing intrigued me and I knew that this would also be a chance to work with Will again and get to work at the Lyric for the first time.”

LeBow, who plays Arthur Przybyszewksi, the Polish-American owner of the donut shop, got involved through his friend Spiros Veloudos, the producing artistic director for the Lyric.

“Once I read the play, I loved it,” he says. “It’s a beautiful acting piece that deals with human beings and the behavior we exhibit.”

LeBow describes Przybyszewksi as a, “draft dodger who went to Canada and still looks like a hippie. He takes over his father’s donut shop, but the place isn’t doing well and in the first scene it’s robbed. He tries to save the business by bringing in a young African American kid from the neighborhood, and their relationship is the main relationship of the play.”

MacDonald plays Officer Randy Osteen, a Chicago police officer that she describes as, “an Irish girl who has six or seven brothers who are all Chicago police officers. She’s a sports watching, single woman who has a fondness in her heart for the guy who runs the donut shop.”

MacDonald says that she and LeBow have done, “35 to 40 plays together, at least.”

“Will and I have been married to each other or fooling around with each other in so many plays in our career together,” she says. “When you’re working with an actor for the first time, you’re feeling things out, seeing how they work, and putting it all together. When you’ve worked with someone before, there’s this shorthand that can happen, and it makes working with uncomfortable topics easier. It makes it fun, but it also doesn’t mean that you don’t have the ability to surprise each other.”

LeBow adds that their relationship, “is as good as it gets in terms of stage acting. We have a great confidence in each other onstage and I can take chances with Karen and know she’ll be there.”

Superior Donuts
January 6 – February 4, 2012
Lyric Stage Company
140 Clarendon Street
Boston, MA
(617) 585-5678

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