A Typical Super Bowl Sunday: Chicken wings, girlfriends, and Scarlett.

Last Sunday, my friend Kristen and I ventured out in freezing temperatures to see Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. It was also Super Bowl Sunday (which no one really cares about, right?) so we thought the perfect was to celebrate would be to experience some classic Tennessee Williams. After successfully purchasing rush tickets, we made our first stop to warm up and hydrate: Little Town (on Restaurant Row). This is one of my favorite places, but it was, very inconveniently, out of almost everything that day. Luckily, they still had wings, and pretzels, and beer.

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They were delicious. We were happy (happy meaning warm and fed). Since we were seeing a three-hour play, we went to caffeinate at Starbucks. We became even happier.

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Finally three o’clock rolled around and we took our side-orchestra seats. We were on the house-left side and although I believe these are sold as ‘partial view,’ there’s really nothing partial view about them. If you’re rushing Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, I suggest you request house left. The action takes place almost entirely center stage anyways.

This revival of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is superior to the 2008 (?)  revival in every single way. I remember being completely underwhelmed at the Broadhurst Theatre when I saw it (but lets be clear that I just remember being there – the production was so unremarkable that I can’t recall anything about it).

The set is breathtaking and actually resembles a plantation home. The sound and lighting designs are equally as lovely, and effective.

The cast? Also: Wow. Everyone knows that Benjamin Walker is pretty and can sing, but Act II of Cat proves that the boy can act. He goes at it with Ciaran Hinds for almost the entire second act and they’re both amazing. I was a huge fan of Ciaran Hinds in The Seafarer and he doesn’t disappoint in this either. He has a huge stage presence that makes you know instantly why everyone calls him “Big Daddy.” While I  Debra Monk is fantastic, she once again played the same kind of character she always does: the scattered wife. 

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And then there’s Scarlett Johansson. She’s gorgeous, and I enjoy her in movies, but could she act on stage? I had missed by a hair her performance in A View From the Bridge so this was my second chance. Yes, she very much can act. I never once doubted her character, or the choices she made onstage. After her performance in Act 1, we were left feeling a bit, “That was awesome, but we want more Scarlett!” after the mostly-Scarlett-less Act 2. But in all seriousness, she was wonderful.

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Overall: It was the perfect Super Bowl Sunday.

Two weeks ago, David invited me to see the most recent revival of A Streetcar Named Desire, currently playing at the Broadhurst Theatre, with him. I was itching to see a new interpretation on the script, so of course I said yes. I saw the last revival at Roundabout two or three times. It was a beautiful, classic revival starring the late Natasha Richardson and John C. Reilly. I was eager to see what this cast of newcomers could do with the material.

Well, first, I’d forgotten how long Streetcar is. It’s close to three hours long, and in a world of “90-minutes-no-intermission” shows, that’s hard to swallow. But we get through it, of course. A Streetcar, after the first scene is when the last 1/3 of the audience comes into the theatre. No, really, it was ridiculous how many people were seated.

But I digress. The set was fitting and depressingly beautiful, while the lighting was awe inspiring, it was so aesthetically pleasing. I very much enjoyed Daphne Rubin Vega as the love-sick and abused Stella, despite having heard not so positive things at first. Wood Harris, as the surprisingly chivalrous Mitch, was endearing and quite perfect. Blair Underwood was strong and intimidating as the iconic Stanley Kowalski, probably more so than John C. Reilly ever was. 

The real star of this cast was Nicole Ari Parker as the pathologically lying and pathetically delusional Blanche DuBoise. Her quick mental and physical demise before the audiences eyes was astounding. It was a crazier interpretation than Richardson’s, but it was still absolutely affective.  

The one bone I have to pick with this production was the direction. At one very quiet, intense moment in the second act during a speech given by Blanche, a member of the company dressed like an old woman waddled across the stage mumbling words. It was the oddest thing I’d ever seen. Streetcar was probably 25 minutes longer than it had to be because the scene changes took so long. Had they been shorter, we’d have been out of there before 11pm. 

Overall though, it’s a successful (albeit different) mounting of Streetcar.