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Maggie the Cat Sizzles and Big Daddy Roars in Davidson Community Players’ “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”

by | Mar 28, 2023

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Davidson Community Players does an excellent job proving that the stage production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is better than the film version of Tennessee Williams’ award-winning play…even considering the stellar cast that was featured in MGM’s 1958 Oscar nominated film headlining Elizabeth Taylor, Paul Newman, and Burl Ives.

The stage drama doesn’t beat around the bush. The actors deliver an undiluted concept of the famous playwright’s script, and that’s exactly what DCP does with its second production of their 2023 season. Andy Rassler directs a powerful rendition of the original storyline without diluting the sexual theme. No mendacity there.

For starters, the set, which Andy and her husband Brian Rassler designed, is awesome! The set is situated in such a way that it seemingly enlarges the appearance of the Armour Street Theatre’s stage. It’s effective!

Andy Rassler’s direction is vibrant in her careful molding of eight intriguing characters who deliver in a southern accent, an unrelenting family drama at a Mississippi Delta large plantation in 1955. Bravo! The cast is wonderful. Five of the actors are welcome newcomers to the DCP stage.

(John McHugh photo)

Della Knowles, who generally plays comedic roles on area stages, portrays Maggie, a sex-starved “cat on a hot tin roof” whose husband Brick, played by Andrew Williams, doesn’t want to sleep with her. “Maggie, the Cat” sure can meow. Compared to Liz Taylor’s sensual style in the film version, a sexy Della holds her own. Although unmistakable ‘Della mannerisms’ emerge occasionally, she delivers a credible lusty southern belle, whiny at times, but strong and defensive against a barrage of accusations from her envious sister-in-law who is expecting a seventh “no-neck little monster.”

Lauren Newell plays a superb pregnant Mae, constantly tormenting her sister-in-law, Maggie. Mae is married to Gooper, Brick’s overlooked older brother, portrayed by Josh Cassels. The two believe they deserve to inherit the immense plantation from Big Daddy. Going to extremes, they document legal reasons why the property should not belong to Brick, seemingly Big Daddy’s favorite son.

Sean Parker portrays Big Daddy, a decisive figure in Tennessee Williams’s tale. Performed a bit too passively at times during the first act, Parker eventually develops Big Daddy’s veracity when he and Brick tackle the disgusting dormant issue of mendacity that has clouded their relationship for a long time. Delivery of the details from the stage and film approaches differ.

(John McHugh photo)

Brick, a quiet, tormented, alcoholic man-of-few-words is convincingly portrayed by Andrew Williams. Supported by a crutch, Brick hobbles around with a cast on one leg defensively guarding his innermost feelings from Maggie’s plea for sex. Then Big Daddy sets out on a quest to save his son from himself. Their sparring is superb!

Becky Porter characterizes the role of Big Mama effectively, empty-headed at times, but strong willed when needed, in defense of her spouse. Oh, how she loves her Brick!

(John McHugh photo)

Amos McCandless makes a dashing, albeit useless, appearance as Reverend Tooker in his clerical attire.

Lake Noman’s popular actor Roger Watson plays Doctor Baugh who contributes only a few words to the seething family drama. Yet, he holds the secret of the truth. Roger’s dashing, dapper figure is always an affirming, welcome, and delightful sight onstage.

DCP’s production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is great theatre! Their delivery of Tennessee William’s alluring story is the kind of drama you can sink your teeth into. Andy Rassler’s well-honed cast does the classic play justice.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof will play again this weekend, Thursday through Saturday evenings at eight and on Sunday afternoon at two at the Armour Street Theatre.

Connie Fisher

Connie Fisher, neé Consuelo Carmona, is a Davidson resident who grew up in Mexico City where she became a journalist and acquired a taste for the theatre. Her preference for work behind the scenes, led to an interest in writing reviews—Yale Rep among her favorite troupes. Connie is the author of Doing it the Right Way, the biography of an Italian hatmaker. Her prose appears with 87 other international writers in The Widows’ Handbook. An active, founding member of Lake Norman Writers, currently she is writing chapters of memoir and continues to review theatre in the Lake Norman area.

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