Watching on the big screen as Julia Roberts performs a part you've played is an exciting experience, says Abby Apple Boes, executive producer of Abster Productions.
Boes, like Roberts, played the part of Barbara in The Dairy Center's September 2012 run of "August: Osage County," produced by Abster. The film version, starring Roberts as well as Hollywood royalty such as Meryl Streep, Ewan McGregor and Benedict Cumberbatch, opens Friday, Jan. 10, at Century Boulder.
"I was really excited to see how the movie was going to come together. It was really interesting to do comparisons," says Boes, who saw a screening of the movie at the recent Starz Denver Film Festival with most of the Boulder show's cast.
The most obvious differences between the two versions, she says, are the result of the different mediums of film versus live theater.
"The play is 3 1/2 hours, and the movie is slightly over two hours," Boes says. "They had to cut major scenes from the movie to get down to a time comfortable for movie watchers."
Many such cut scenes, she adds, included the relationship between Barbara and her husband, Bill, played in the film version by McGregor.
While that slimming perhaps reduced the richness of characters' relationships — that was one of the 12-character ensemble play's strengths — Boes appreciated that the screenplay was written by the play's Tony and Pulitzer Award-winning author, Tracy Letts.
"I didn't see where they changed any of the dialogue," Boes says, "which was wonderful, because he didn't need to."
Abster Productions' "August: Osage County" was nominated for four Colorado Theatre Guild's Henry Awards and came home with one, for Outstanding Scenic Design. And it was in the setting that local actor Anne Oberbroeckling saw a big difference in the experience, because the camera can capture varied locations and exterior scenes that can't be done on stage.
"As an audience member, I was enjoying that," says Oberbroeckling, who played the role of Violet, as Streep does in the film. "And (the movie) actually went to Osage County in Oklahoma. It was all filmed there. The actors lived in housing around there. That's fascinating and interesting."
With that freedom comes some loss, though.
"The play in New York and in larger theaters is usually done with a three-tiered house on stage. It looks like an open dollhouse on three levels," Oberbroeckling says. "Just being in the same room with these characters kind of moves you out of your chairs. As compared to the movie, I didn't have that same gut reaction to it."
She also quibbles (no spoilers!) about a minor shift in the story's ending.
"Maybe that's movies. Maybe that's Hollywood. They don't want to leave things totally bleak," Oberbroeckling says. "The movie did seem a little less brittle than the play. A little kinder, a little softer."
Both actors enjoyed the film and would recommend a viewing; whether they'd recommend watching the movie as much as the live-theater version of the story, though, is a more complicated decision.
" 'Osage County' is one of those plays," Boes says, "I think is a theater-goers' play" rather than an experience for wider audiences. "But the movie version will perhaps bring a wider recognition to the play, and perhaps the next time someone stages it, that will bring more people out, like the movie version of 'On Golden Pond' did."