Monday, July 26, 2010

Producing the Play

Morosco Theatre, (3/24/1955 - 11/17/1956)
217 W. 45th St., New York, NYSeats (approximate): 955

Total Previews:

Opening: Mar 24, 1955

Closing: Nov 17, 1956

Total Performances: 694

Category: Play, Drama, Original, BroadwaySetting: A bed-sitting room and section of the gallery of a plantation home in the Mississippi Delta. An evening in summer.

Theatre Owned by The Shubert Organization; Theatre Operated by City Playhouses, Inc. (Louis A. Lotito, President)

Produced by
The Playwrights' Company (Maxwell Anderson; Robert Anderson; Elmer Rice; Robert E. Sherwood; Roger L. Stevens; John F. Wharton)

Written by
Tennessee Williams

Staged by
Elia Kazan

Scenic Design by
Jo Mielziner; Lighting Design by Jo Mielziner; Costume Design by Lucinda Ballard; Assistant Designer to Jo Mielziner: John Harvey; Assistant to Lucinda Ballard: Florence Klotz

Business Manager:
Victor Samrock; Company Manager: Ben Rosenberg

Production Stage Manager:
Robert Downing; Stage Manager: Daniel Broun; Assistant Stage Mgr: Richard Durham

Press Representative:
William Fields; Associate Press Representative: Walter Alford and Reginald Denenholz; Assistant to Mr. Kazan: Marguerite Lamkin and Jean Stein; Production Assistant: Malcolm Wells

Opening Night Cast

Barbara Bel Geddes

Burl Ives
Big Daddy

Mildred Dunnock
Big Mama

Ben Gazzara

R. G. Armstrong
Dr. Baugh

Janice Dunn

Seth Edwards

Maxwell Glanville

Pauline Hahn

Pat Hingle
GooperBrother Man

Brownie McGhee

Darryl Richard

Madeleine Sherwood
MaeSister Woman

Eva Vaughn Smith

Fred Stewart
Rev. Tooker

Sonny Terry

Musa Williams

Broadhurst Theatre, 235 W. 44th Street

New York, NY 10036

Tuesday at 7pmWednesday through Saturday at 8pm

Wednesday and Saturday at 2pm

Sunday at 3pm

Time Change:Sunday, June 15 at 2pm

Preview: Feb 12, 2008
Total Previews: 27
Opening: Mar 6, 2008
Closing: Jun 22, 2008
Total Performances: 125

Production Staff

Lighting Designer - William H. Grant III

Composer (Original Music) - Andrew Allen

Director - Debbie Allen

Costume Designer - Jane Greenwood

Scenic Designer - Ray Klausen

Hair Designer - Charles G. LaPointe

Sound Designer - John Shivers

Original Cast

Skye Jasmine Allen-Mcbean - Sonny

Lisa Arrindell Anderson - Mae (Sister Woman)

Bethany Butler - Household Staff, Mae (Understudy)(Sister Woman), Maggie (Understudy)

Marissa Chisolm - Trixie

Giancarlo Esposito - Gooper (Brother Man)

Lynda Gravátt - Big Mama (Understudy)

Marja Harmon - Sookey, Mae (Understudy)(Sister Woman), Maggie (Understudy)

Heaven Howard - Dixie

Terrence Howard - Brick

Clark Jackson - Lacey, Dr. Baugh (Understudy), Gooper (Understudy)(Brother Man), Rev. Tooker (Understudy)

James Earl Jones - Big Daddy

Lou Myers - Rev. Tooker

Phylicia Rashad - Big Mama

Robert Christopher Riley - Household Staff, Brick (Understudy), Lacey (Understudy), Rev. Tooker (Understudy)

Anika Noni Rose - Maggie

Count Stovall - Dr. Baugh, Big Daddy (Understudy)

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Theatre Review by Matthew Murray - March 6, 2008

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams. Directed by Debbie Allen. Set design by Ray Klausen. Costume design by Jane Greenwood. Lighting design by William H. Grant III. Sound design by John H. Shivers. Hair design by Charles G. Lapointe. Cast: Terrence Howard, Phylicia Rashad, Anika Noni Rose, and James Earl Jones, with Lisa Arrindell Anderson, Lou Myers, Count Stovall, and Giancarlo Esposito, Bethany Butler, Marissa Chisolm, Marja Harmon, Heaven Howard, Clark Jackson, Skye Jasmine, Allen-McBean Robert, Christopher Riley.Theatre: Broadhurst Theatre, 235 West 44th Street between Broadway and 8th AvenueSchedule: Tuesday at 7 pm, Wednesday through Saturday at 8 pm, Wednesday and Saturday at 2 pm, Sunday at 3 pmRunning Time: 2 hours 45 minutes, including two 12 minute intermissions.Audience: May be inappropriate for 10 and under. (Strong language.) Children under the age of 4 are not permitted in the theatre.Ticket price: Orchestra and Mezzanine (Rows A-J) $96.50, Mezzanine (Rows K-L) $66.50. Wednesday matinees: Orchestra and Mezzanine (Rows A-J) $86.50, Mezzanine (Rows K-L): $61.50.Tickets: Telecharge

Look out, cat fight!

We've long known about self-professed claw-bearer Maggie in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, the absorbing family drama about life's mercurial mendacities. But who knew there was another feline lurking in the shadows? In the third act of the new revival at the Broadhurst, the prospect of losing her share of Big Daddy Pollitt's $80 million inheritance gives Maggie's scrappy sister-in-law and nemesis Mae reason enough to get her own fur in a twist. When the two turn on each other, all but arching their backs and hissing, you half expect the gloves - and perhaps more - to come off, and the blood to start spurting onto the audience.
This is Tennessee Williams?
Darned if I know. The likes of Maggie and Mae, their husbands Brick and Gooper, and parental overseers Big Daddy and Big Mama are familiar from other renderings of Williams's 1955 masterpiece of tangled lives and lies in the fading Deep South. But as interpreted by director Debbie Allen and a cast including such talents as James Earl Jones, Phylicia Rashad, Terrence Howard, and Anika Noni Rose, this Cat suggests less searing theatre than it does Good Times Goes Southern.
The reason for the change is not quite the one you might surmise. The semi-stunt, wholly African-American casting caused more stirs at its initial announcement months ago than it does onstage. You have no particular trouble understanding how Big Daddy (Jones) rose to his position of prominence as a plantation owner on "28,000 acres of the richest land this side of the Valley Nile"; in fact, his skin color lends tantalizing new possibilities to the selection of positions he may have held on the grounds when he worked them.
It's not hard, then, to accept the other Pollitts. Big Mama (Rashad) is the bulldozer of a wife and mother, whose expectations of family and continuation are realized more in their greedy son Gooper (Giancarlo Esposito) and his wife Mae (Lisa Arrindell Anderson) than in the alcoholic Brick (Howard) and his wife Maggie (Rose), who can barely stand to share a bed anymore.
Maggie's complaints about escaping poverty for society take on a resonance when spoken by a young, beautiful black woman that they don't when uttered by a white bombshell - you can't help but assume the two have very different ideas of growing up poor. Likewise, you see more hurdles in the life of former football star Brick than just the ones he stumbled over to leg-breaking effect the previous night; his reluctance to disrupt his station and his family with his drinking and depression over the loss of his friend Skipper (who may have been more than just a friend) come from a more fraught place than they typically seem to with the brooding white actors so often cast in the role.
But if the concept is not an immediate bust, it's also not a sure sell. The last Broadway revival, in 2003, played it safe with a chilly but traditional take, starry actors (Ashley Judd, Jason Patric, and Ned Beatty led the company), and a deflating, defeated atmosphere. Allen avoids those pitfalls, but falls into another by not preventing truth from seeping away under the steady heat of her concept.
From the opening image, in which a blues saxophonist (Gerald Hayes) blows his way across Ray Klausen's bordello-boudoir set while a half-naked Howard mimes showering in half-light, it's obvious the evening's aims are not to shatter myths about Southern propriety. Soon after, when Maggie begins her prowling about Brick while primping for Big Daddy's impending birthday party, Allen gives more open, teasing, and deliberate focus to Rose's steamy sex appeal than has been the case with any other production I've seen. Worse, Rose's orange-steamroller delivery of her act-length declamation of discontent so overwhelms the serenely stolid Howard, his helpless disinterest becomes literally comic.
It's not an isolated incident. Allen has let comedy run rampant, allowing - if not outright encouraging - peals of laughter in unthinkable places, as if everything has been approached in the manner of a black sitcom. Which one? Take your pick. Maggie pouts, Brick grunts, and it's a rerun of Married... with Children. Esposito's sly play for Big Daddy's fortune has more than a few shades of a subdued Martin Lawrence. And I'm positive I saw Maggie and Mae's showdown played out on any number of episodes of Family Matters (though Steve Urkel has thankfully stayed away).
While none of this is ideal for a play that thrives within its social and sexual subtexts, it does sometimes hit its targets. The lengthy second-act confrontation between Brick and Big Daddy, in which son faces up to Skipper's ghost and father to his own crumbling body, is as arresting as the rest of the production is shallow. This is greatly helped by Howard, whose slow, specific speech patterns mark his Brick as accepting his own truth for the first time, creating an unusually realistic rendering of a man too often seen as disposable.
Too few of the other performances compare. Rose has never looked more gorgeous or more self-assured, but her one-note rendition of Maggie's layered concerns is not befitting this Tony Award-winning musical actress (for Caroline, or Change, in 2004). Rashad, who is Allen's sister, is lurching, broad, and unbearable; utterly absent is the icy temerity she's brought to recent stage roles in A Raisin in the Sun (for which she won a Tony Award) and Bernarda Alba, replaced by curious gropes toward the Aunt Jemima stereotype she's shunned her entire career. Esposito and Anderson convey industriousness but nothing else during their brief moments of prominence.
As for Jones, he's exactly the fulcrum this unsteady crew needs for balance. The libidinous glint in his eye when Big Daddy, believing he's dodged cancer's bullet, makes plans for conquering more territory (of the young, fresh, female variety) in his remaining 15 or 20 years, tells you all you need to know about what brought Big Daddy to the top - and what will keep him there until God strikes him down. (That Voice, and his mountain-like physical presence, convince you it can't really be any time soon. Doctors reports, alas, don't always agree.)
His Big Daddy tinged with not even a hint of self-pity, Jones is unforgiving, unforgettable, and irreplaceable as a man of means who's also uncomfortably mortal. But his outward bravado doesn't completely fool anyone - including himself. "The human animal is a beast that dies," he acknowledges to his son in a moment of self-realization and therapeutic necessity. Not so, at least for Jones: In this Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, the man that's dying is the only one who's ever recognizably alive.

Yet Another Life for Maggie the Cat

Published: March 7, 2008

Those eternal adversaries, irresistible force and immovable object, clash with gusto in the first act of the otherwise flabby revival of Tennessee Williams’s “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” which opened Thursday night at the Broadhurst Theater.
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Times Topics: Tennessee Williams
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Sara Krulwich/The New York Times
Phylicia Rashad and James Earl Jones in a new production of “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” directed by Debbie Allen.
The irresistible part of the equation is embodied most persuasively by Anika Noni Rose as that determined Southern seductress Maggie the Cat. Taking on the immovable duties is Terrence Howard, in his Broadway debut, as Brick, Maggie’s self-anesthetized husband.
Watching Maggie test her will of fire against Brick’s Scotch-glazed shield of ice sends off such lively sparks that for the show’s first 40 minutes or so you wonder if this might not be the most entertaining “Cat” since Elizabeth Ashley had her way with Keir Dullea more than three decades ago. But as any of Williams’s disappointed characters could tell you, life is full of pretty hopes that fade before your eyes.
It’s starting to feel as if “Cat,” first staged in 1955, has become as frequent a visitor to Broadway as “Rigoletto” is to the Metropolitan Opera. The previous revival, starring Ashley Judd, Jason Patric and Ned Beatty, closed only four years ago. But this melodrama of Southern-fried mendacity, Williams’s personal favorite, is blessed with temptingly juicy roles that larger-than-life actors can’t wait to squeeze.
So there was reason to be excited when this latest incarnation, directed by Debbie Allen, was announced. And not, at least for me, because of the novelty of an all-black cast. (By transporting the play from the 1950s and the age of Jim Crow to a later, unspecified decade, Ms. Allen wisely pushes past the issue of race.)
What sounded promising was the matching of performers and roles. James Earl Jones, of the earth-shaking baritone and overpowering stature, as the tyrannical, filthy-rich Big Daddy; Phylicia Rashad, who won a Tony as the long-suffering matriarch in the recent revival of “A Raisin in the Sun,” as his long-suffering wife: it was as if these parts were their birthrights.
Most tantalizing of all was the idea of Mr. Howard as their alcoholic son, Brick. Mr. Howard brought an eye-opening freshness to the perennial screen archetype of the sensitive but manly brooder in his Oscar-nominated turn as a small-time pimp in “Hustle & Flow.” The big question, it seemed, was whether Ms. Rose, hitherto known as an able supporting actress (“Caroline, or Change” and the film version of “Dreamgirls”), would be able to hold her own in such daunting company.
As it turns out, Ms. Rose more than holds her own. She pretty much runs the show whenever she’s onstage, and when she’s not, the show misses her management. Mr. Howard and Mr. Jones have moments that suggest what they might have made (and possibly still could make) of their roles. And Ms. Rashad presents a creditable, if arguably misconceived, Big Mama. But this time it’s Maggie who rules the Pollitt family’s dusty old house of lies.
Ms. Rose’s Maggie is less ornately stylized than earlier versions (including Ms. Ashley’s and Kathleen Turner’s, as well as Elizabeth Taylor’s in the 1958 film), and she more or less ignores Williams’s baroque descriptions of the character’s changes in timber and tempo. But what Ms. Rose grasps, with riveting firmness and clarity, is Maggie’s hard-driving sense of purpose.
Maggie, as you may recall, has an exceptionally clear through line for a Williams character. She has to make her husband, long absent from her bed, have sex with her again. This is because: 1) she really loves him; 2) a woman has her needs; 3) if she doesn’t conceive a child, it’s possible that the estate of the terminally ill Big Daddy will go to his other son, Gooper (Giancarlo Esposito), who has an annoyingly fertile and conniving wife (Lisa Arrindell Anderson).
It’s the hot-and-bothered aspect of Maggie that originally made “Cat” a succès de scandale. But it was her unyielding will to survive that most interested Williams.
Though Ms. Rose wears a slinky slip as beguilingly as Ms. Taylor did, it’s her take-charge energy and unembarrassed directness that make this Maggie such a stimulating presence. When she exclaims, “Maggie the cat is alive!,” you can only nod in admiring agreement.
The play’s first act has always been Maggie’s, an aria of insistence and supplication directed at Brick, who, having broken his leg, is a captive audience. But what a perfect audience Mr. Howard’s Brick is here, doing his best (and understandably failing) to tune out a wife who keeps prodding open wounds — like his suspicious closeness to his best friend, Skipper.
Brick is often played in the first act with robotic disaffection. Mr. Howard is more visibly amused, disgusted and drunk than any Brick I’ve seen. You’re always aware that the click into numbness he aspires to has yet to arrive, lending a livelier than usual dynamic to his avoidance of Maggie.
The problem is that by the second act, when Big Daddy and Brick confront the truth together, Mr. Howard is wearing his character’s pain all too palpably, mopping his eyes and tearfully bleating his lines. This turns Brick into a wounded little boy instead of the willfully numbed creature he must be to challenge Big Daddy into anger.
As a consequence Mr. Jones is forced to play his character as a blustery but affectionate fellow whose vulgarity masks a good heart, not so different from the lovable codger he recently portrayed in “On Golden Pond.” Ms. Rashad, in turn, seems to grow in supportive strength and mother-knows-best wisdom. The production acquires a haze of sentimentality that makes it soft when it should be sharp. The same might be said of Ms. Allen’s direction. There’s plenty of life in her staging, which keeps an army of Pollitts and servants, assembled for Big Daddy’s birthday, running around Ray Klausen’s standard-issue Southern-mansion set. There is even, for reasons beyond my ken, a saxophone player (Gerald Hayes) who struts across the stage before each act.
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Sara Krulwich/The New York Times
Anika Noni Rose as Maggie in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof."
Times Topics: Tennessee Williams
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Sara Krulwich/The New York Times
James Earl Jones and Terrence Howard in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof."
The resulting atmosphere is festive, for sure, and the show is never boring. But too often it’s without focus. Ms. Allen tries to resolve the problem by having her principal characters awkwardly spotlighted for their defining soliloquies. (William H. Grant III did the oddly abrupt lighting.) But she needs to rein in her cast.
Mr. Esposito, Ms. Anderson and even on occasion Mr. Jones resort to broad exaggeration more appropriate to a sitcom. And Mr. Howard is allowed to punctuate Brick’s speeches with slackening silences of interior exploration on which the audience is not invited to accompany him.
I will admit that I have yet to see a perfectly balanced “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.” What I recall of Anthony Page’s version in 2003 is Mr. Beatty’s magnificent Big Daddy.
But Williams wrote that with “Cat” he was “trying to catch the true quality of experience in a group of people, that cloudy, flickering, evanescent — fiercely charged! — interplay of live human beings in the thundercloud of a common crisis.” The only fiercely charged element at the Broadhurst is Ms. Rose’s Maggie. This “Cat” cries out for more lightning.

ANTA Playhouse, (9/24/1974 - 2/8/1975)

245 W. 52nd St., New York, NY

Seats (approximate): 1222
Preview: Sep 22, 1974

Total Previews: 2
Opening: Sep 24, 1974
Closing: Feb 8, 1975

Total Performances: 160
Category: Play, Drama, Revival, BroadwaySetting: A delta plantation, 1954.

Theatre Owned / Operated by The American National Theatre and Academy
Produced by ANTA (Robert Whitehead, Managing Director)
Originally produced by The American Shakespeare Theatre (Michael Kahn: Artistic Director)
Written by Tennessee Williams
Directed by Michael Kahn
Scenic Design by John Conklin; Costume Design by Jane Greenwood; Lighting Design by Marc B. Weiss
General Manager: Oscar Olesen
Production Stage Manager: Edward P. Dimond; Stage Manager: Robert Horen
General Press Representative: Seymour Krawitz; Associate Press Representative: Patricia McLean Krawitz; Photographer: Martha Swope; Advertising: Lawrence Weiner and Associates

Opening Night Cast

Elizabeth Ashley

Keir Dullea

Fred Gwynne
Big Daddy

Kate Reid
Big Mama

Amy Borress

Jeb Brown

Sukey Brown

William Larsen
Dr. Baugh

Joan Pape
MaeSister Woman

Wyman Pendleton
Rev. Tooker

Kathy Rich


Charles Siebert
GooperBrother Man

Standbys: Caroline McWilliams (Mae, Maggie), Michael Zaslow (Brick).
Understudies: Amy Borress (Dixie), Carol Gustafson (Big Mama), Robert Horen (Dr. Baugh, Rev. Tooker), William Larsen (Big Daddy).

Eugene O'Neill Theatre, (3/21/1990 - 8/1/1990)

230 W. 49th St., New York, NY

Seats (approximate): 1108
Preview: Mar 14, 1990
Total Previews: 9
Opening: Mar 21, 1990
Closing: Aug 1, 1990

Total Performances: 149
Category: Play, Drama, Revival, BroadwaySetting: A bed-sitting room and section of the gallery of a plantation home in the Mississippi Delta, an evening in summer.

Theatre Owned / Operated by Jujamcyn Theaters (James H. Binger: Chairman; Rocco Landesman: President)
Produced by Barry & Fran Weissler; Associate Producer: Alecia Parker; Produced in association with Jujamcyn Theaters, James Cushing and Maureen O'Sullivan Cushing
Written by Tennessee Williams; Incidental music by Ilona Sekacz
Directed by Howard Davies
Scenic Design by William Dudley; Costume Design by Patricia Zipprodt; Lighting Design by Mark Henderson; Sound Design by T. Richard Fitzgerald; Hair Design by Robert DiNiro; Associate Lighting Design: Beverly Emmons
General Manager: Charlotte Wilcox; Company Manager: Robert H. Wallner
Technical Supervisor: Arthur Siccardi; Production Stage Manager: Patrick Horrigan; Stage Manager: Betsy Nicholson; Assistant Stage Mgr: Ron Brice
Sound Effects Programming by Dan Tramon
Casting: Stuart Howard and Amy Schecter; Press Representative: Shirley Herz Associates; Advertising: Grey Entertainment & Media; Speech and Dialect Coach: Sam Chwat

Opening Night Cast

Kathleen Turner

Charles Durning
Big Daddy

Polly Holliday
Big Mama

Daniel Hugh Kelly

Nesbitt Blaisdell
Rev. Tooker

Suzy Bouffard

Ron Brice

Jerome Dempsey
Dr. Baugh

Amy Gross

Marcial Howard

Edwina Lewis

Kevin O'Rourke
GooperBrother Man

Debra Jo Rupp
MaeSister Woman

Billy L. Sullivan

Erin Torpey

Seth Jerome Walker

Understudies: Suzy Bouffard (Dixie), Jerome Dempsey (Big Daddy), Mary Layne (Mae, Maggie), John Newton (Dr. Baugh, Rev. Tooker), Tom Stechschulte (Brick, Gooper)

'Big Daddy' Ferrets Out Truth in 'Cat'


NEW YORK — Yes, Kathleen Turner is a tough, sexy and even funny Maggie in the respectable, occasionally riveting, revival of "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" that opened Wednesday at Broadway's Eugene O'Neill Theater.
But the heart of Tennessee Williams' Southern-fried Gothic melodrama belongs to Big Daddy, the dying patriarch of "28,000 acres of the richest land this side of the valley Nile.

Played with remarkable control by Charles Durning, Big Daddy is a seeker of truth, and truth is what "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" is all about. The truth has kept Maggie and her alcoholic husband, Brick, apart. Brick, Big Daddy's favorite son, is an aging golden boy whose luster has begun to tarnish. He drinks his days away, hoping to hear "the click" that will help him forget a promising football career and the relationship he had with Skipper, his now-dead best friend.
The truth is what everyone is trying to hide from Big Daddy who has been told his stomach troubles are nothing more than a spastic colon. But reality is revealed in a long second act confrontation between Brick and Big Daddy. The father forces his son to look into the past and the son inadvertently tells the father about the future.
It's a powerful moment, particularly as played by Durning and Daniel Hugh Kelly as the doomed Brick. Brick is something of a cipher, but Kelly manages to make him a sympathetic person. And Durning is at his best, alternatively flamboyant and sensitive. It's a remarkable juggling act.
Turner controls the play's first and third acts. There's an intelligence and a steely determination to her portrayal of Maggie, particularly when she is defending her own interests.
Director Howard Davies' approach to the play is traditional. There are no surprises or revelations but then nothing goes wrong either.
What other critics said:
Frank Rich, The New York Times: It takes nothing away from Kathleen Turner's radiant Maggie in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" to say that Broadway's gripping new production of Tennessee Williams' 1955 play will be most remembered for Charles Durning's Big Daddy.
Clive Barnes, New York Post: Turner, mocking yet fearful, sassily funny yet itchy with desires that go beyond sex, and the all but innocent victim of a family in perpetual and hateful crisis, is giving a performance to cherish, in a play to revalue.
David Richards, Washington Post: This Maggie is more a tiger lily than a magnolia. While Turner's vigor guarantees a good, scrappy fight to the finish, it also contributes to the poetic shortfall.

Music Box Theatre, (11/2/2003 - 3/7/2004)

239 W. 45th St., New York, NYSeats (approximate): 1025
Preview: Oct 9, 2003
Total Previews: 28
Opening: Nov 2, 2003
Closing: Mar 7, 2004

Total Performances: 145

Theatre Owned / Operated by The Shubert Organization (Gerald Schoenfeld: Chairman; Philip J. Smith: President; Robert E. Wankel: Executive Vice President) and The Estate of Irvin Berlin
Produced by Bill Kenwright; Presented through special arrangement with University of the South
Written by Tennessee Williams; Incidental music by Neil McArthur
Directed by Anthony Page
Scenic Design by Maria Björnson; Costume Design by Jane Greenwood; Lighting Design by Howard Harrison; Sound Design by Christopher Cronin; Wig Design by Tom Watson; Associate Scenic Design: Michael Brown; Associate Costume Design: MaryAnn D. Smith; Assistant Costume Design: Wade Laboissonniere; Associate Lighting Design: Robert Halliday; Assistant to the Sound Designer: William Lewis
General Manager: Lisa M. Poyer and Robert Cole Productions, Inc.; Company Manager: G. Eric Muratalla
Production Stage Manager: Susie Cordon; Stage Manager: Allison Sommers; Technical Supervisor: Gene O'Donovan and Aurora Productions
Casting: Pat McCorkle; Fight direction by Rick Sordelet; Vocal Coach: Charlotte Fleck; Press Representative: Philip Rinaldi Publicity; Advertising: The Eliran Murphy Group, Ltd.; Assistant to the Director: Kahan James; Marketing: HHC Marketing; Photographer: Joan Marcus; Poster Photo: Jean-Marie Guyaux and Hugo Glendinning

Opening Night Cast

Ned Beatty
Big Daddy

Ashley Judd
(Oct 9, 2003-Feb 22, 2004)

Jason Patric Broadway debut

Amy Hohn Broadway debut
MaeSister Woman

Margo Martindale Broadway debut
Big Mama

Michael Mastro
GooperBrother Man

Starla Benford

Patrick Collins
Rev. Tooker

Pamela Jane Henning Broadway debut

Alvin Keith

Isabella Mehiel Broadway debut

Edwin C. Owens
Dr. Baugh

Murieann Phelan Broadway debut

Zachary Ross Broadway debut

Charles Saxton Broadway debut

Jo Twiss Broadway debut

Standby: Ted Koch (Brick).
Understudies: Starla Benford (Lacey), Patrick Collins (Dr. Baugh), Ted Koch (Gooper, Rev. Tooker), Kelly McAndrew (Mae, Maggie), Edwin C. Owens (Big Daddy), Jo Twiss (Big Mama).

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Theatre Review by Matthew Murray - November 2, 2003

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams. Directed by Anthony Page. Set design by Maria Björnson. Costume design by Jane Greenwood. Lighting design by Howard Harrison. Sound design by Christopher Cronin. Music composed by Neil McArthur. Cast: Ashley Judd, Jason Patric, Ned Beatty, with Margo Martindale, Michael Mastro, Amy Hohn, Edwin C. Owens, Patrick Collins, Alvin Keith, Starla Benford, Jo Twiss, Pamela Jane Henning, Isabella Mehiel, Muireann Phelan, Zachary Ross, Charles Saxton.Theatre: Music Box Theatre, 239 West 45th Street between Broadway and 8th AvenueRunning time: 2 hours 50 minutes with two 15-minute intermissionsAudience: May be inappropriate for ages 13 and under. Children under the age of 4 are not permitted in the theatre.Schedule: Tuesday at 7 PM, Wednesday through Saturday at 8 PM, Wednesday and Saturday at 2 PM, Sunday at 3 PM.Ticket price: $86.25Tickets: TelechargePremium Seating: Premium Seating at $151.25 per ticket ($126.25 for Wednesday matinees) is also available by calling the Telecharge Premium Desk at 212-239-6270.

It's always a bit rare in November to find the air as cold inside a theater as outside. At the Music Box, where a revival of Tennessee Williams's Cat on a Hot Tin Roof just opened, that seems to be exactly the case.
Well, much of the time anyway - the central heating does get turned on when Ned Beatty steps onstage. As Big Daddy, enterprising plantation owner and the patriarch of the Pollitt clan, Beatty's capable of melting the ice covering his fellow actors and much of the rest of Anthony Page's production when he makes an appearance.
While only somewhat imposing physically, Beatty's Big Daddy is emotionally towering, bearing the air of a man who truly has been through it all; he's earned his position in life with hard work, and he wants to hang onto it for as long as possible and leave it in good hands when he passes on. He's clearly the driving force, the generator from which the rest of the family's energy derives.
Or at least where it should derive. There's an alarming paucity of this feeling from every other actor on stage. Beatty's performance as the father of this unruly group is so clearly defined that it seems as if the other actors have forgotten their characters are supposed to be related to him.
In Williams's tense family drama, where every relationship and bond is suspect, the underlying recognition that these people are trapped by their blood is vital. It not only sustains the tension between the characters, but allows the story itself to make sense - this is a family where deception (or mendacity, to use a word often repeated during the play) is commonplace, so a successful production must articulate what has driven these people to this type of behavior.
Maggie is caught between her own uneven and unrewarding upbringing and the life of privilege that her marriage to Brick, Big Daddy's favored son, can afford her. But their union suffers in comparison, or so she thinks, to that of Brick's brother Gooper and his wife Mae, which puts her future in jeopardy. Brick has been driven to alcoholism by the untimely death of his best friend Skipper, in which he may have played a role, and is worried about how that death may reflect on him as a son and a man.
This is all exasperated by Big Daddy's medical condition - he believes (not without reason) that he's suffering only from a spastic colon, while the prognosis is indeed quite a bit worse. And, of course, everyone wants his or her fair share of Big Daddy's spoils: Maggie thinks everything will pass to her and Brick if they can conceive a child, while Gooper and Mae are determined to remind Big Daddy of all they have that Maggie and Brick do not.
The show's fragile plotting begins to disintegrate and disinterest when the ill-defined personalities of this production's characters become evident. Like the late Maria Björnson's scenic design, which finds every other board missing from every visible surface of Maggie and Brick's bedroom, many of the performers' portrayals seem little more than half there.
Jason Patric, for example, seems capable of delivering Brick's lines with only two different vocal inflections, and his emotional range seldom moves far beyond vague amusement on one end of the spectrum and mild annoyance on the other. The show's centerpiece scene, in which Big Daddy confronts Brick with his alcoholism and forces him to examine his relationship with Skipper (the homosexual underpinnings of which are left intentionally ambiguous), is stultifying and one-sided; Beatty invests his work with great need and love, while Patric reacts blankly.
This vital scene is completely ineffectual and its failure renders much of the rest of the production futile. Without concrete definition for Brick, Maggie cannot be fleshed out properly, and indeed she's not - Ashley Judd's Maggie never seems to be suffocating under the threat of mediocrity. Her watery nature reflects on the Gooper and Mae of Michael Mastro and Amy Hohn, who provide no real threat and look like buffoons played for comic relief rather than a frightening vision of Maggie's future.
Margo Martindale, as Big Mama, then looks even more ineffectual, and her performance, while decently emotional, reads as emotionally stilted and in no way commanding. The rest of the actors, in small roles, seem to recognize they are in bit parts and generally act accordingly - even the children don't suggest the "no-neck monsters" of which Maggie is so terrified. Only Beatty defines his character well, but as he's present mostly in the second act and for only a few brief moments in the third, there may as well be a blinking "vacancy" sign atop the proscenium arch most of the rest of the time.
Jane Greenwood's costumes are nice enough, and Howard Harrison's lighting (when not trying to depict fireworks) well captures a southern summer, but the south's oppressive heat and the dynamics of these complicated relationships must come out in the performances and the direction, and they simply don't. The work of Page and most of his actors suggests that the cat of the title would more likely freeze to the roof, at least when Beatty's not around to heat things up.

Broadway Cat Digs in Claws Through March 14

By Robert Simonson14 Jan 2004

Ned Beatty and Ashley Judd in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

The Music Box Theatre revival of his classic Cat on a Hot Tin Roof will sit on its haunches until March 14, a spokesman confirmed. The limited run was to have closed on Feb. 22.
Heading the cast are Ashley Judd, as the frustrated, beautiful and determined Maggie the Cat; Jason Patric as her willfully alcoholic, unresponsive husband Brick; and Ned Beatty as the blustery and blunt redneck millionaire Big Daddy. The production also stars Margo Martindale as the cowed, but loving Big Mama; Michael Mastro as Brick's neglected brother, Gooper; and Amy Hohn as Gooper's baby-making, grasping wife Mae. Previews began Oct. 9, under the direction of Anthony Page. Bill Kenwright produces the limited engagement. The current mounting uses the script employed in the 1974 Broadway production. The play's third act has fluctuated from production to production. Williams adjusted his first draft after original director Elia Kazan demanded changes in the depictions of the three main characters. Both versions of act three were featured when the play was published. Williams revisited the script in 1974, created a new text which held on to elements of both the first and second drafts. Among the major changes: Big Daddy's return in the third act (he did not in the first version), and an increased frankness in the language.

Statement: Producing the Play

What are some of the problems presented by the script that must be addressed by any production? After reading the script i would have to say that the biggest problem would have to be the age of the characters. If the show was done here, at Sam Houston, there may be a problem trying to cast the characters of Big Daddy and Big Mama. The reason why i address this is because Big Daddy is in his mid to late 60's and Big Mama is right there behind him in age. Also, another problem with the script is will there be accents? The show is set in Mississippi and the accent there is very distingished from other state accents.

What are some of the problems that we, here at Sam Houston, would be faced with were we to produce your play on the upcoming UTC season? As i addressed earlier, the ages of Big Mama and Big Daddy are in their 60's. If the play were to be produced here, at Sam Houston, that would be a huge problem with casting. Would there be an open casting call for older men and women to audtion for the show? I believe there would have to be because I do not think a twenty two year old could pull of the part of either, let alone have the maturity in their voice and presence. Also, another problem would be casting Mae and Goopers 6 children. Once again, I believe that there should be an open audition, just like in The Full Monty. Also, another problem with producing the show at Sam Houston would be an all white cast or would we cast any race? As for the accents, I think being true to the script would be alittle too much for the accents. Mississippi accents are alittle hard to understand and if an actor rushes a line the audience would not understand what he or she just said. So I do not think accents are neccassary for a Sam Houston production.

Other Productions’ Solutions Based on what you have seen (pics) and read (reviews), how have other productions solved these problems? Well, considering I only used Broadway productions, they very easily solved the problems of casting with the ages of characters. Unlike a college production, thousands of actors, ageing in various years, audition for these productions. As for the race casting issue, the 2008 Broadway production was an all black cast with James Earl Jones and Terrance Howard. So casting at Sam Houston could go either way, go all white or have an interracial cast. There are many talented actors in the Theatre Department who would be perfect for Brick, Maggie, Mae and Gooper. The question, however, is would the director follow the script and have an all white cast, plus the two black servants Big Daddy hired, or would the director spice things up and take a risk and cast black actors as principle roles.

Critical Response How have the critics responded? Did they love the script? What about the production they reviewed? Why or why not? The critics were half and half with the production that they reviewd. To be fair though, they all loved the script, however, after seeing their production they were reviewing, the reviews speak otherwise. Take Matthew Murray's review for example, directed by Anthony Page. He liked the show until he talks about how an actor just looks blankly in response to another actor. He called it a "failure" and it was ineffective. However, for the 2008 Broadway production starring James Earl Jones, critics loved his performance as Big Daddy. They loved his voice and acting and stage presence. However, according to Matthew Murray, he did not like the production. He asked in his review if what he was watching was Tennessee Williams and he said "darned if i know." He brought the topic of the change in casting to an all black cast and how it stirred up people.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The World of the Play

Macro View
1. The Berlin Conference of 1954 - was a meeting of the "Big Four" foreign ministers of the United States United StatesThe United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district... (John Foster Dulles John Foster DullesJohn Foster Dulles served as U.S. Secretary of State under President Dwight D. Eisenhower from 1953 to 1959. He was a significant figure in the early Cold War era, advocating an aggressive stance against communism around the world...), Britain United KingdomThe United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is a sovereign state located off the northwestern coast of continental Europe. It is an island country, spanning an archipelago including Great Britain, the northeastern part of Ireland, and many small islands... (Anthony Eden Anthony Eden
Robert Anthony Eden, 1st Earl of Avon, KG, MC, PC was a British Conservative politician, who was Foreign Secretary for three periods between 1935 and 1955, including during World War II...), France FranceFrance , officially the French Republic , is a country located in Western Europe, with several overseas islands and territories located on other continents. Metropolitan France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean... (Georges Bidault Georges Bidault
Georges-Augustin Bidault was a French politician. During World War II, he was active in the French Resistance...), and the Soviet Union. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia from 1922 to 1991. The name is a translation of the , tr. Soyuz Sovetskikh Sotsialisticheskikh Respublik, abbreviated СССР, SSSR. The common short name is Soviet Union, from , Sovetskiy Soyuz... (Vyacheslav Molotov)
Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Molotov was a Soviet politician and diplomat, a leading figure in the Soviet government from the 1920s, when he rose to power as a protégé of Joseph Stalin, to 1957, when he was dismissed from Presidium of the Central Committee by Nikita Khrushchev...), on January 25-February 18, 1954.The ministers agreed to call a wider international conference to discuss a settlement to the recent Korean War Korean War. The Korean War is a war that started between North Korea and South Korea on 25 June 1950 and paused with an armistice signed 27 July, 1953... and the ongoing Indochina War FirstIndochina WarThe First Indochina War was fought in French Indochina from December 19, 1946, until August 1, 1954, between the French Union’s French Far East Expeditionary... between France and the Viet Minh Viet Minh
The Việt Minh was a national liberation movement founded in South China on May 19, 1941 . The Việt Minh initially formed to seek independence for Vietnam from France and later to oppose the Japanese occupation.-World War II:During World War II, Japan occupied French Indochina..., but failed to reach agreement on issues of European security and the international status of Germany GermanyGermany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a country in Central Europe. It is bordered to the north by the North Sea, Denmark, and the Baltic Sea; to the east by Poland and the Czech Republic; to the south by Austria and Switzerland; and to the west by France, Luxembourg, Belgium,... and Austria AustriaAustria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.3 million people in Central Europe. It borders both Germany and the Czech Republic to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the west..., then under four-power occupation following World War II

2. Geneva Conference (1954) - (May 8 – July 21, 1954) was a conference between many countries that agreed to end hostilities and restore peace

3. Brown vs. Board of Education - Supreme Court unanimously rules on Brown v Topeka Board of Education reversed 1896 "separate but equal" Plessy Vs Ferguson decision on May 17

4. Georgetown-IBM experiment, the first public demonstration of a machine translation system, is held in New York at the head office of IBM on January 7th

5. "South Pacific" closes at Majestic Theater NYC after 1928 performances on January 16th

6. Ground breaking begins on Disneyland

7. Cost of Living 1954 - Yearly Inflation Rate USA 0.32%
Yearly Inflation Rate UK 1.9%
Average Cost of new house $10.250.00
Cost of a gallon of Gas 22 cents
Average Cost of a new car $1,700.00
Average Monthly Rent $85.00
Movie Ticket 70 cents
Life Magazine 20 cents
The Dow Jones recovers back to pre Wall Street Crash highs of 381.17

8. Hydrogen bomb test conducted on Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean.

9. President Eisenhower signed the Communist Control Act outlawing Communist Party in the US

10. The words "under God" are added to the United States Pledge of Allegiance .

Micro View

1. Ruby Bridges was born in Tylyertown, Mississippi in 1954. In 1960 Ruby had her first day in a all white school. She was one of the first black children to attend white schools.

2. Mississippi Valley State University founded in 1951

3. 100,000 acres flooded from Mississippi R in Ks, Okla, Mo & Ill in 1951

4. F Durrenmatt's "Die Ehe des Herrn Mississippi," premieres in Munich in 1952

5. Truman signs Executive Order 9981, which states, "It is hereby declared to be the policy of the President that there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion, or national origin.

6. Temperature -
Minimum Temperature
75.9 °F
Mean Temperature
87.1 °F
Maximum Temperature
93.9 °F

7. September 16, 1954 - Mississippi legislature completed passage of a state constitutional amendment intended to preclude forced integration of Negro students into white schools by permitting abolition of the state public school system.

8. Davis W. Houck is associate professor of communication at Florida State University. He is the author, with Matthew A. Grindy, of Emmett Till and the Mississippi Press (University Press of Mississippi), among other books. David E. Dixon is associate professor of political science at Saint Joseph's College (Indiana). With Houck he coedited Rhetoric, Religion, and the Civil Rights Movement, 1954-1965.

9. Elvis Presley was born in Tupelo, Mississippi in 1935 and recorded first two songs in 1954.

10. 1954 -- Vaiden, Mississippi -- A car with several blacks pulled into the Nelms Cafe on U.S. Highway 51, about 2 miles north of Vaiden. An altercation ensued between the owners, Bryant Nelms and his wife, Mozell, and the driver of the car, Robert Lee Goldsby. Goldsby pulled a gun and fired at the Nelms', killing Mrs. Nelms, and injuring her husband. Goldsby, a former resident of Canton, MS, was apprehended and convicted for the murder of Mrs. Nelms. Goldsby received the death sentence. The following from Howard Smead's excellent book, "Blood Justice -- The Lynching of Mack Charles Parker," explains the connection between the Goldsby case and the Parker case. It is quoted verbatim from the book.

What is the importance and significance of the macro and micro information I found? Well, to begin with I will start with the macro information.
The first thing I found was The Berlin Conference of 1954. It was a meeting of the "Big Four" foreign ministries to the United States. The information is important to the script so that you, the reader, have an understanding of whats going on in the world. Moving along is the Geneva Conference in 1954. It began on May 8th and lasted til July 21st 1954. The reason behind the conference was to end tension between other countries and restore peace in the world. Once again, this information gives you a better understanding of how the U.S.A. is reacting to situations like this. Moving along to probably the most famous or most recognized is the case Brown vs. Board of Education. The verdict of the Supreme Court was unanimously ruled and reversed the 1896 "seperate but equal" Plessy vs. Ferguson. Next up is the IBM experiment in Georgetown. This experiment was the first public demostration of a machine translation system. It was held on January 7th and was successful! This information shows that even though Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is based in Mississippi along the Delta, up North great things are happening and people are trying new things. Speaking of plays, the next macro fact has to deal with a show. The show "South Pacific" closes on January 16th after have been performed over 1,928 performances. It was at the Majestic Theater in New York. Moving along to a very special piece of information, ground breaking began on Disneyland in 1954! As we all know, Disney has become a huge household name and the star, Mickey, is one of the most recognizable cartoons ever! Even though in the play there is alot of tension and uneasiness, a few states away magic is being made so that everyone can be a kid again and have fun and relax. Now then, as for the cost of living in 1954. The research I found was very helpful and helped me understand the value of the dollar back in the 50's. It cost an average $10,250.00 for a new house! Compare that to todays dollar and the price now would sky-rocket through the roof. Also for a new car, the cost was $1,700.00 and the car was new! Another very important macro fact that was going on in 1954 was the testing of the hydrogen bomb. The bomb was tested at Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean. While Brick and Maggie are on a Southern plantation, a very advanced and scary device had been built and tested. In 1954, President Eisenhower signed the Communist Control Act, which outlawed the Communist Party from the United States. Finally, for the macro information, in 1954 the words "under God" are added to the United States Pledge of Allegiance.
As for the micro information, the important facts that happened in Mississippi. To begin with, in 1954 Ruby Bridges was born in Tylertown and 6 years later in 1960 became one of the first blacks to attend an all white school. Moving along, the Mississippi Valley State University was founded in 1951, providing great education. In 1951, more than 100,000 acres were flooded, stretching from the Mississippi River to Kansas to Oklahoma to Montana to Illionis. That is alot of land that was destroyed and it is very fortunate that Big Daddy and his vast acres of land are not real, otherwise it was more than likely that his land would have been whipped out. In 1952, F Durrenmatt's "Die Ech des Herren Mississippi" primiered in Munich. Moving along, President Truman signed the Exceutive Order 9981, which abolished segregation and everyone was treated equally in the armed forced no matter what their beliefs, race or gender. As for the temperature in Mississippi in 1954, i was able to find the mininum, mean and maximum temp from back then. The mininum temp was 75.9 degrees, the mean was 87.1 degrees and the maximum temp in Mississippi in 1954 was 93.9 degrees. On September 16, 1954, the Mississippi Legislature completed passage for blacks to attend all white schools and make the schools intergrated.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Cat On A Hot Tin Roof

Basic Facts

Author and Language: Tennessee Williams, English

Play Structure: 3 Acts

Cast Breakdown: 9 Men, 8 Women

Run Time: 112 min.

Genre Identification: Drama

Bio: "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" is the story of a Southern family in crisis, focusing on the turbulent relationship of a husband and wife, Brick and Maggie ("The Cat") Pollitt, and their interaction with Brick's family over the course of one evening gathering at the family estate in Mississippi, ostensibly to celebrate the birthday of patriarch and tycoon "Big Daddy" Pollitt. Maggie, though witty and beautiful, 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 dates back to the recent suicide of his friend Skipper. Big Daddy is unaware that he has cancer and will never 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, hoping to receive the definitive share of Big Daddy's enormous wealth.

Publication Info: Copyright 1954, 1955, 1958, Tennessee Williams, Dramatists Play Service, Inc

Licensing and Rights: Dramatists Play Service, Inc


1. Mendacity - a word Brick uses to describe his disgust with the world

2. Utter - to give audible expression to (something), verb

3. Oilcloth cover - (Clothing, Personal Arts & Crafts / Textiles) waterproof material made by treating one side of a cotton fabric with a drying oil, or a synthetic resin

4. Remittances to us - A remittance is a transfer of money by a foreign worker to his or her home country.

5. Dotes on you, honey - to be lavish or excessive in one's attention, fondness, or affection —usually used with on

6. Lech for me - any strong desire or liking, noun

7. Rotary - is an organization of service clubs known as Rotary Clubs located all over the world. It is a secular organization open to all persons regardless of race, color, creed, gender, or political preference. There are more than 32,000 clubs and over 1.2 million members worldwide. The members of Rotary Clubs are known as Rotarians. The stated purpose of the organization is to bring together business and professional leaders to provide humanitarian service, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations, and help build goodwill and peace in the world. Members usually meet weekly for breakfast, lunch or dinner, which is a social event as well as an opportunity to organize work on their service goals.

8. Flop-house - A flophouse (English: doss-house or dosshouse) is a place that offers very cheap lodging, generally by providing only minimal services.

9. Aerial - gymnastics move performed in acro dance and various martial arts

10. Bearskin Cap - A bearskin is a tall fur cap, usually worn as part of a ceremonial military uniform. Traditionally, the bearskin was the headgear of grenadiers, and is still worn by grenadier and guards regiments in various armies.

Fable Plot Summary

The show opens in a house in Mississippi in 1954, which is owned by Big Daddy. It is Big Daddy’s birthday but he is very sick due to the fact that he has cancer and is dying. His son Brick and wife Maggie are at the house with Big Mamma, his brother Gooper, his wife Mae and their 2 no-neck monster children. Gooper and Mae are there for one reason, inheriting Big Daddy’s enormous wealth and property. While the two are trying to weasel their way into Big Daddy’s will, Brick and Maggie are dealing with their own issues. Brick is a huge alcoholic and is non conformational while Maggie is fighting to save their marriage and trying to gain the love and respect for both her and Brick from Big Daddy. As the show goes on we discover that Gooper and Mae have been “spying” on and listening to Brick and Maggie at night time and tell Big Mamma that Brick and Maggie don’t even sleep in the same bed, he sleeps on the couch because he is “afraid” to touch her. Maggie confronts Brick about this and accuses him of being gay. Brick yells at her. Big Daddy, after hearing about Gooper and Mae spying on Brick and Maggie, kicks them out of the house with nothing to inherit. In the end, Big Daddy finally gives what Brick was looking for, the love and respect he had always wanted.

Plot Summary

Act 1 - Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is a three-act play showcasing the turbulent lives of the Pollitt family, led by Big Daddy Pollitt. The family lives on a Southern plantation in Mississippi in the mid-1950s. The plot revolves around the two main characters, Brick Pollitt and his wife, Margaret, informally called Maggie. Maggie is the play's namesake, which is attributed to her high spirits and perseverance. The play opens in Brick and Maggie's bedroom, which also serves as a sitting room in the Pollitt plantation. Maggie enters the room in a huff because she needs to change her dress, which was soiled by a buttered biscuit thrown by one of Gooper's children. Gooper is Brick's brother and is married to Mae. Gooper and Mae's family includes five children with the sixth on the way. Brick is in the shower and cannot hear Maggie, so he asks her to repeat herself. With increasing agitation, Maggie yells to Brick once more and calls Gooper and Mae's children little no-neck monsters. Maggie says that she would love to wring the necks of the obnoxious children, if only they had any. To Maggie, the children are fat little heads sitting on fat little bodies with no connection in between. Maggie's mortification at the hands of one of the no-necked monsters turns softens her and she tells Brick that she has seen a gynecologist and is perfectly capable of having children. She says that in fact, today is a perfect day for Maggie to conceive, a fact which does not stir Brick in the slightest. Brick asks Maggie how she intends to conceive a child with a man who does not love her and she admits that that is a situation she will have to resolve.

Act 2 - As the second act begins, Brick and Maggie are in their bedroom as the rest of the family, Doctor Baugh and Reverend Tooker come in for Big Daddy's birthday party. Reverend Tooker is enumerating the donations left to the church by a wealthy patron who has recently died. Big Daddy bristles at the talk of death, since he has narrowly escaped a diagnosis of cancer.
Big Mama rushes in looking for Brick and chastises him for drinking too much. Big Mama is an overweight, gaudily dressed woman with less than genteel manners. She is an embarrassment to many of the family members, who tolerate her only for her position as the matriarch of the family. Big Mama gives a signal and the household staff members enter, bringing a birthday cake and bottles of champagne......

Act 3 - The family is beginning to wander back into Brick and Maggie's room and wonders to where Big Daddy has disappeared. Big Mama assumes her husband has gone to bed early, being exhausted from such a full day. She mentions that Big Daddy didn't seem like himself during the evening, but he did eat a huge meal like a man with a healthy appetite.
Gooper and Mae comment that they hope Big Daddy does not suffer from all the food. Big Mama doesn't comprehend their meaning and several times Gooper tries to tell his mother what he means, but Mae stops him with a stern look or a poke in the ribs. Big Mama thinks Big Daddy just needs a good night's sleep since the worry of a cancer diagnosis is over.


Lacey - Male, Black handyman

Sookey - Female, Black maid

Margaret - Female, Young Woman, Brick's wife, the plays "cat"

Brick - Male, Young Man, married to Margaret

Mae - Female, A mean, agitated "monster of fertility" who schemes with her husband Gooper to secure Big Daddy's estate. Mae appears primarily responsible for the burlesques of familial love and devotion that she and the children stage before the grandparents.

Gooper - Male, A successful corporate lawyer. Gooper is Daddy's eldest and least favored son. He deeply resents his parents' love for Brick, viciously relishes in Daddy's illness, and rather ruthlessly plots to secure control of the estate.

Big Mama - Female, Maggie's mother. Fat, breathless, sincere, earnest, crude, and bedecked in flashy gems, Mama is a woman embarrassingly dedicated to a man who despises her and in feeble denial of her husband's disgust. She considers Brick her "only son."

Dixie - Female, Daughter of Mae and Gooper

Buster - Male, Son of Mae and Gooper

Sonny - Male, Son of Mae and Gooper

Trixie - Female, Daughter of Mae and Gooper

Big Daddy - Male, Maggie's father. Affectionately dubbed by Maggie as an old-fashioned "Mississippi redneck," Daddy is a large, brash, and vulgar plantation millionaire who believes he has returned from the grave.

Rev. Tooker - Male, A tactless, opportunistic, and hypocritical guest at Big Daddy's birthday party. As Williams indicates, his role is to embody the lie of conventional morality. Note especially in Act III his off-hand anecdote about the colors of his cheap chasuble fading into each other.

Doctor Baugh - Male, Big Daddy's physician

Daisy - Female, Daughter of Mae and Gooper

Brightie - Female, Daughter of Mae and Gooper

Small - Male, Son of Mae and Gooper

Characters and Casting

Who would I cast in my production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof? Well to begin with there are seventeen characters in the show, nine men and eight women. Also, how would I go about casting non-traditional, if I needed to?
First off, I would cast Robert Devoue as Big Daddy. He has that stern but caring personality that Big Daddy has. Plus, he is a great actor and would be great at this role! Moving along to who would play Big Mama? For Big Mama I would cast Kathy Bates because she is a somewhat big woman, an Academy Award winner and great actress and would be great for this part as Big Mama. As for the lead of the show, Brick, I would cast Ben Stiller. I would cast him because I saw him in House of Blue Leaves and saw the struggle his character was put through and I believe he would do a great job playing Brick. Brick goes through a great deal of assumptions and accusations about being gay and Ben Stiller would do well with that issue. As for the leading lady, Maggie, Bricks wife is a strong woman and I would cast Sandra Bullock as Maggie. After seeing her performance in The Blindside, which won her the Oscar for Best Actress, there is no doubt she would be amazing playing this strong willed woman. Maggie is basically the “cat” on the hot tin roof as she fights to get the love and respect from Big Daddy and deal with the issue of her husband, Brick, might be a homosexual. Moving on to Gooper, I would cast Robert Downey Jr. as him. I would cast Robert because I believe that he could play the douchebag brother who only wants Big Daddy’s enormous wealth. He has that presence of a greedy, money driven, upset man who has six kids and an evil wife. Speaking of evil wives, Mae is Goopers wife and she is down right mean and evil! So who would I cast as this part? I would cast Kate Gosslin as Mae. There is something about the way she looks and gives off the presence of being the perfect Mae, crazy and mean. Moving right along to Lacey and Sookey, the black workers of Big Daddy on the plantation. For Lacey, I would cast Denzel Washington and for Sookey I would cast Michelle Obama. As for Reverend Tooker, I would cast Tim Baker, the t.v. evangelist, because according to the description of the character he is a hypocritical man of the Lord. Moving on to the character of Doctor Baugh, I would cast Laurie Hughes as his character from House. He would be perfect for the role of Big Daddy’s physician because he doesn’t put up anyone and is great at what he does. Finally, who would I cast as the five to six children of Mae and Gooper? I would have an open call audition for the parts of the characters.
For the setting of the show and the fact that we know that everyone is white, except for Lacey and Sookey, I would have to keep casting to traditional casting.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Definitions of Dramaturgy

Gotthold Ephraim Lessing

1.) dram·a·tur·gy (drm-tûrj, dräm-) KEY NOUN:
The art of the theater, especially the writing of plays

2.) dramaturgy [ˈdræməˌtɜːdʒɪ]
(Performing Arts / Theatre)

the art and technique of the theatre; dramatics
dramaturgic , dramaturgical adj
dramaturgically adv

3.) Dramaturgy in the theater is the art of dramatic composition, and the representation of the main elements of drama on the stage. Some dramatists combine writing and dramaturgy when creating a drama. Others work with a specialist, called a dramaturge, to adapt a work to the stage. Dramaturgy is a sociological perspective stemming from the work of Erving Goffman. In dramaturgical sociology it is argued that human actions are dependent upon time, place, and audience.