Theatre in the Park chose the Tennessee Williams’ classic, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, for its latest show. Though the production was not perfect, it manages to effectively portray the happy, longing-for-something 1950s Southern family which the show centers on.
The set, designed by Stephen J. Larson, is a thoroughly realistic portrayal of a Mississippi plantation home, made all the more real by the sounds of crickets in the background and Southern-evening style lighting, also by Larson. Shawn Stewart-Larson’s costumes are all excellent as well. These elements, plus director Ira David Wood IV’s decision to open the show with mournful country music, followed by stark blackness, combine to immerse the audience in the world of the family, and what a sad world it is!
Sarah Bousquet’s Maggie is absolutely perfect — gorgeous, husky voiced, selfish, sometimes funny, and believably desperate for the love of her husband Brick (Rob Rainbolt). Bousquet’s moments on the stage are some of the very best of the entire show. While most of the cast is strong, including Rainbolt, whose character is so eaten up with “disgust” that he’s often hard to watch, it’s impossible to look away when Bousquet takes the stage.
John T. Hall has some shining moments in his role as crotchety Big Daddy, though he gets off to a slow start and fumbles a few of his lines. Minor characters Doctor Baugh (Randy Jordan) and Reverend Tooker (Mike Rumble) do well and memorable in their small roles.
On opening night, the production had some technical bugs to work out; the lights went out for a brief moment; but, to its credit, the cast picked right back up without a hitch. Unfortunately, one poor directing choice couldn’t be overlooked. In the first act, Maggie and Brick scramble around breathlessly in a fight containing important back story. Unfortunately, much of the exposition turns into a screechy mess as a result, which may leave some first-time viewers of the play confused until later in the show.
Though this Tennessee Williams’ piece is a long one (three hours!) and deals with many difficult themes, perfectly-timed intermissions and a few strong actors make it worth a watch. It’s not the kind of show that leaves viewers feeling happy and uplifted, but it certainly gives the audience a lot of things to think about.
SECOND OPINION: June 10th Raleigh, NC CVNC review by Jeffrey Rossman: http://cvnc.org/article.cfm?articleId=5588. (Note: To read Triangle Arts & Entertainment’s online version of Triangle Theater Review’s June 5th preview by Robert W. McDowell, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2012/06/sarah-bousquet-rob-rainbolt-and-jack-hall-star-in-cat-on-a-hot-tin-roof-at-theatre-in-the-park/.)
Theatre in the Park presents CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF at 7:30 p.m. June 14-16, 3 p.m. June 17, 7:30 p.m. June 22 and 23, and 3 p.m. June 24 in the Ira David Wood III Pullen Park Theatre, 107 Pullen Rd., Raleigh, North Carolina 27607.
TICKETS: $22 ($16 students, seniors 60+, and active-duty military personnel).
BOX OFFICE: 919-831-6058 or http://www.etix.com/.
The Play: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cat_on_a_Hot_Tin_Roof (Wikipedia) and http://www.ibdb.com/show.php?id=2442 (Internet Broadway Database).
The Script: http://books.google.com/ (Google Books).
The Playwright: http://www.olemiss.edu/mwp/dir/williams_tennessee/index.html (Mississippi Writers Page, compiled by the University of Mississippi English Department) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tennessee_williams (Wikipedia).
The Film: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cat_on_a_Hot_Tin_Roof_(film) (Wikipedia) and http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0051459/ (Internet Movie Database).