Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Cat on A Hot Tin Roof"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"


entire contents copyright 2010 by Tony Annicone

"Cat on A Hot Tin Roof"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The current show at Little Theatre of Fall River is "A Cat on a Hot Tin Roof". written by Tennessee Williams. The show first opened on Broadway on March 24,1955 starring Ben Gazzara, Barbara Bel Geddes and Burl Ives. In 1958 it was turned into a movie starring Paul Newman, Elizabeth Taylor and Burl Ives. It is the story of a Southern family in crises, focusing on the turbulent relationship of a wife and husband, Maggie, "The Cat" and Brick Pollitt, and their interaction with Brick's family over the course of one evening. They gather at the family estate in Mississippi, supposedly to celebrate the birthday of patriarch and tycoon "Big Daddy" Pollitt. Maggie, through wit and beauty, has escaped a childhood of desperate poverty to marry into the wealthy Pollitt family, but finds herself suffering in an unfulfilling marriage. Brick, an aging football hero, has neglected his wife and further infuriates her by ignoring his brother's attempts to gain control of the family fortune. Brick's indifference and his near-continuous drinking date back to the recent suicide of his friend Skipper. He has a hidden secret which Maggie addresses in the first act and his father in the second. Big Daddy is unaware that he has cancer and will not live to see another birthday; his doctors and his family have conspired to keep this information from him and his wife. His relatives are in attendance and attempt to present themselves in the best possible light, in the hopes of receiving the definitive share of Big Daddy's enormous wealth. Williams' poetic dialogue still packs a punch and even though the show is billed as a drama, there are many funny moments thrown in to temper it. Co-directors Kathy Castro and Bob Gillet cast this show very well.

Kathy and Bob give each of their performers their moments to shine in this show. They are aided in their task by stage manager Sue Cotuitt who keeps things running smoothly onstage and backstage. The multitude of costumes are by Cindy Loria and Mary Pavao with props by Betty Teixeira and Gail Powers. Maggie is played with a seductive vulnerability by Tracy L. Gendreau. She is a gorgeous red head who first appears in a soiled frock which has been ruined by grape juice being spilled on it by the no-neck monsters.(Mae and Gooper's children) What Tracy grasps in this role is Maggie's hard driving-sense of purpose. She is wonderful especially in the first act which is almost a whole monologue for her. Tracy drives home Maggie's reasons to Brick including that she really loves him; a woman has her needs and if Maggie doesn't conceive a child, it's possible that the huge estate will go to the other son, Gooper and his annoyingly fertile and conniving wife, Mae. The brooding heavy drinking, Brick played by John Wright who recently returned to RI having spent the past 10 years in New York, appears with a broken foot on a crutch, exuding petulant sexuality in the role. The intensity builds with Tracy in the first act and with Big Daddy in the second act. Finally by Act 3 the light dawns in the alcoholic son's brain, making Brick comfort his mother when she needs him, leading the audience to believe he'll give up drinking, give Maggie the child they need to hold onto the family estate.Bern Budd tackles the role of Big Daddy. He does an excellent job as this cantankerous, curmudgeon who fears for his mortality. Big Daddy yells and swears at Brick during their argument scene and at everyone else who offends him, too. Telling lies on the plantation has become a way of life but he wants that to stop shouting "Liars, liars,liars" as he storms off stage at the end of Act 2. Bern is full of fire and brimstone in this role of larger than life character. Linda Monchik does a wonderful job as Big Mama. She is the long suffering wife of this tycoon. Linda's most dramatic moment comes when Big Mama doesn't want to hear that her husband's cancer might be terminal.

Chris McRae is dynamic onstage as he plays the role of the unloved son, Gooper. He gives his mother and father the grandchildren that they desire but Brick has always been the apple of their eye, no matter how well he does with his law practice. Chris does a splendid job in this seemingly underwritten role in a Williams play. The constantly pregnant Mae is played by Katie Mello. She wears a pregnancy pad and sulks around the stage spying and eavesdropping on Brick and Maggie as well as on Brick and Big Daddy. Katie is a spitfire especially when she pushes Tracy around. She also gets to yell out that Maggie is a liar for telling Big Daddy she is pregnant because Mae and Gooper can distinctly hear that Maggie and Brick haven't made love in a long time. Katie leads the children in two songs for Big Daddy. The Pollitt children are well played by Hannah Andrade, Andrea and Ethan Amaral and Samantha and Colin Soares. Rounding out the cast is Maria Dawson as Sookey, the maid, Eugene Rheaume as Reverend Tooker who leads the children in "Jesus Loves Me So" and Michael McGill as Doctor Baugh who delivers the real results of Big Daddy's test at the end of the show. So for a look back at a classic show, be sure to catch "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof".

"Cat on A Hot Tin Roof" (11 - 14 March)
LITTLE THEATRE OF FALL RIVER
@ BBC, 777 Elsbree Street, FALL RIVER MA
1 (508)675-1852

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