Brandon Gill welcomed the chance to play the role of Franco in the Pittsburgh Public Theater’s version of Tracy Lett’s award-winning play, “Superior Donuts.”
The show will run through May 15 at the O’Reilly Theater Downtown.
“I saw it on Broadway and I thought it was a role I wanted to do,” said Gill who is originally from Long Island, NY. “Tracy gives the gift of language to African-Americans. We’re not asked to play a stereotype by any means. My character, Franco wrote a book and he has aspirations of being a great writer. To have a role where we are not asked to play the drug dealer or a character like that is something.”
In addition to Gill, the play also stars local actor Wali Jamal, who portrays “Star Trek” obsessed cop, James.
Directed by the Pittsburgh Public Theater’s Artistic Director, Ted Pappas, Superior Donuts tells the story of the relationship between despondent donut shop owner, Arthur Przbyszewski, a 1960s radical and Franco Wicks, his energetic but troubled African-American assistant at the shop who wants to update the business by adding lively music and adding healthier fare to the menu.
The production opened in Chicago in 2008 and on Broadway in 2009. The character of Franco was portrayed on Broadway by Tony Award-nominee Jon Michael Hill who plays Detective Damon Washington in the ABC Police Drama, “Detroit 1-8-7.”
Ironically, Gill guest starred in an episode of the series alongside Hill last year.
“It’s great to work with him and people like him who have the same background as you. People who have the foundation of an artist and can speak the same language,” said Gill, a Julliard graduate.
Gill, who has been acting since the age of 11, has performed in various television shows and movies including “Big Momma’s House 3: Like Father Like Son,” earlier this year, as Scratch opposite funnyman Martin Lawrence and last year’s “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” opposite Nicholas Cage. In 2006 he voiced Chad Morris in “Bully” and appeared in an episode of “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” that same year.
He can be seen in a May 4 episode of the TBS comedy, “Are We There Yet?” Gill plays a teenage vegan who goes out with Lindsey.
Although he has been featured on the silver screen and television, Gill says his first love will always be the stage.
“Theater is immediate satisfaction and what I’m going to get is right there. With films and television, you don’t know what you look like or sound like until the movie comes out or the episode airs. With theater you are building a relationship with the audience and they give you energy,” Gill said.
Gill says audiences who come to see “Superior Donuts” can expect to laugh and cry during the show.
“Tracy is so lyrical and poetic that each character has their own arc. People who come to the theater should be ready for the full circle of a story and life lessons learned,” he said. “People will learn to never stop dreaming and never stop moving no matter how old you are.”
When he’s not showcasing his talents on stage, Gill is taking in plays and musicals, traveling and hanging out with family and friends in New York.
(For ticket information on “Superior Donuts,” call the O’Reilly Theater at 412-316-1600)