Sunday, January 20, 2013

Review: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Two paws up for Cat!!
Richard Rodgers Theater, NYC – Somehow (but really mostly by whining about forgetting to take my medication), I scored tickets to opening night of “Cat” for myself and my two best boyfriends (my husband and his dad) on Broadway.  Critics galore and celebrity photo opportunity central.  I cursed myself for being short as I see flash bulbs going off everywhere.  I jump up and down hoping for a Liam Neeson sighting.  I do see the gal whose name I can never remember (Sarah Paulson) who played the thinly veiled version of Aaron Sorkin’s ex-girlfriend Kristen Chenoweth in “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip” and was so great as Nicolle Wallace in HBO’s “Game Change.” I actually got a chance to tell her how much her how much I enjoyed her work in that movie as the woman who restrained herself from choking Sarah Palin to death during the 2008 campaign.  Nice. Still… no Liam.  Some dude from a defunct soap sighting.  Whatever.

Okay, I know what you are thinking…. everyone was there to see Scarlett Johansson’s boobs in the iconic role of "Maggie the cat."  But no!  That’s not true.  Everyone’s family has some form of dysfunction and they were there to see a play by the author who mastered depicting it better than anyone else on the stage: Tennessee Williams.

The entire action of the play took place in Maggie and Brick’s bedroom and if you are familiar with the story, that’s the only "action" that is taking place in their bedroom.  I don’t recall the film version very well with Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman, but I found the staging to be fascinating because the set was so elaborate that I couldn’t imagine how they would change it.  It was a very impressive debut for a director known for musicals, Rob Ashford, taking on a play and the blocking was impeccable.  Well done, sir.

I’m not going to tell you that Scarlett “was a revelation” because she’s already won a Tony Award for her performance “A View From the Bridge.”  She was excellent in the role and very well cast.  A pal of mine initially said she was too young for the role, but as we find out her spouse in the play is supposed to be 29, she’s not.  Brick was played by (“Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter”) Benjamin Walker and he brought much humor to the performance and was great with its physical demands as the character had been drunk hurdling the night before the action takes place and had a broken  ankle.  We eventually find out why Brick and Maggie’s marriage has become sexless, but it’s not because of the misconceptions his family harbors about him. Families!  What can you do??

As for the rest of the family it includes Big Daddy (Ciaran Hinds); Big Momma (Debra Monk); Mae (Emily Bergl) and Gooper (Michael Park).  I’m not familiar with Park, but most recently have seen Hinds on USA’s “Political Animals” and "Game of Thrones,"  Monk on “Damages” and last saw Bergl blowing her brains out on “Desperate Housewives.”  The entire cast was stellar which infuriates me that the NY Times only recognized Scarlett’s performance.  I know Charles Durning won a Tony for his performance as Big Daddy back in 1990, but if he gave it the energy that Ciaran Hinds did, he’d likely have died of a heart attack on stage and the Times ignored Hinds.  Debra Monk had huge energy too.  I don’t understand professional critics.

Of course, we were in the nose bleed seats, but I think they have some sound issues which I hope they will work out quickly because Maggie’s lines need to be delivered rapid fire to come off as comicly as they should.

People have complained that Broadway is becoming “too Hollywood.”  I wish they would just shut up already.  Doing 8 performances a week could easily kill an actor.  An actor is totally wired after a performance like that, dehydrated, not likely to sleep very soon and immune systems are getting trickier all the time. Can you say “pneumonia” kids?  And speaking of kids, it was the youngest audience I’ve ever seen at a non-musical play on Broadway and if it takes movie stars to fill the seats, then so be it.

On the way out, some clueless older dude said to his wife, “I don’t understand why Big Daddy preferred Brett (yes, he said that) instead of Cooper (another character misnomer)?”  Well, I’ll tell you doofus… it’s because everyone loves a story about someone who had the potential to be a superstar, yet didn’t become one.  It’s all mysterious and stuff dude.   Nobody cares about someone who aspired to become a smarmy corporate lawyer like the Gooper character did.  And that, you moron (or 'moran' in your case), is some mighty fine story telling I reckon. 

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