• “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” at Glendale’s Antaeus Theater ( Photo - Steven C. Kemp).

      “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” at Glendale’s Antaeus Theater ( Photo – Steven C. Kemp).

      Antaeus Theatre Company made its presence known in its new Glendale home with an ambitious and successful production of “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” by Tennessee Williams (reputedly his favorite of his own plays).

      By Carol Edger Germain

      Literally doubly ambitious actually, as there were two cast companies that played on different days. I saw the “Hoppin Johns” company, with Linda Park as Maggie, Daniel Bess as Brick, Mike McShane as Big Daddy, Julia Fletcher as Big Mama, Tamara Krinsky as Mae, Michael Kirby as Gooper.

      The three-hour production (with two intermissions) transported the audience in a split second to Big Daddy’s mansion in the Mississippi Delta and we only left when the curtain came down, I could have played a voyeur the rest of the afternoon into the heads, hearts, bedrooms, and living room of the family. Maggie’s opening monologue set us up with clips of the history and relationships of the family members, colored by her personal opinions and position in the family. Despite the reality of the comfortable temperature in the theater, nevertheless I felt the sweltering humidity of a hot southern summer as I followed the lives, lies, secrets, and manipulations of a family each trying to secure his or her place in the heart and mind of Big Daddy during his final weeks on earth, for their own financial gain, without revealing the one truth they all shared, that he was dying and didn’t know it, nor did Big Mama. Ambition, despair, denial, loyalty, selfishness, and yes, even love, and of course mendacity, all snaked their way into and out of the characters as they each played their own game. Although the play was first produced over 60 years ago, it still snapped and popped with sexual tension, explosive revelations and reactions, and cat fights (the predecessor, with substance, to today’s glut of catty female fake reality shows). The language of the day was spoken as written, not “politically corrected” for the current times, thank goodness. Nothing “dated” and this story at all.

      Cat on a Hot Tin Roof ( Photo - Steven C. Kemp).

      Cat on a Hot Tin Roof ( Photo – Steven C. Kemp).

      The actors were evenly matched in skills and ability to pull your attention to their pronouncement or protestation of the moment, and it was an enjoyably bumpy ride. There were some raw, demeaning and dismissive interactions, especially between Big Daddy and his busy, doting but perhaps clueless partner, Big Mama, a couple of which broke my heart but confusingly, for me anyway, drew mild laughter from the audience. It’s always an extra challenge to freshen up a performance of a classic that has been done for decades, but this group, under the guidance of director Cameron Watson and the assistance of Stage Manager Kristin Weber, Scenic Designer Steven Kemp, Lighting Designer Jared A Sayeg, Costume Designer Terri A. Lewis, Props Designer Erin Walley, and Sound Designer Jeff Gardner, can congratulate themselves on keeping the audience visually and mentally riveted, even though we knew the story. Especially effective was the mildly off-center and skewed positioning of some of the furniture and effects, adding to the dysfunctional perspective of the family. I highly recommend you introduce yourself to Antaeus Theatre with this production.

      Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
      • Production:
      Director: Cameron Watson, Production Stage Manager: Kristin Weber, Scenic Designer: Steven Kemp, Lighting Designer: Jared A. Sayeg, Costume Designer: Terri A. Lewis, Props Designer: Erin Walley, Sound Designer: Jeff Gardner, Dialect Coach: Tracy Winters, Fight Choreographer: Bo Foxworth, Assistant Stage Manager: Chandler Reed, Assistant Director: Portia Juliette.
      • Cast:
      Daniel Bess, Dawn Didawick, John DeMita, Mitchell Edmonds, Julia Fletcher, Henry Greenspan, Harry Groener, Tim Halligan, Michael Kirby, Tamara Krinsky, Eliza LeMoine, Mike McShane, Rebecca Mozo, Linda Park, Ross Philips, Robert Pine, Vivienne Belle Sievers, Jocelyn Towne, Helen Rose Warshofsky, Patrick Wenk-Wolff.
      Kiki & David Gindler Performing Arts Center
      110 East Broadway, Glendale, CA 91205 (between N. Brand Blvd. and Maryland Ave.)
      Parking: First 90 minutes free, then $2 per hour, in Glendale Marketplace garage located at 120 S. Maryland Ave (between Broadway and Harvard).
      • Performances thru May 7:
      Thursdays at 8 p.m. April 27, May 4
      Fridays at 8 p.m. April 28, May 5
      Saturdays at 2 p.m. April 29, May 6
      Saturdays at 8 p.m. April 29, May 6
      Sundays at 2 p.m., April 30, May 7
      • General Admission: $30-34.
      • Buy tickets here.

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