Hey, Mom! The Explanation.

Here's the permanent dedicated link to my first Hey, Mom! post and the explanation of the feature it contains.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #214 - A Streetcar Named Desire

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #214 - A Streetcar Named Desire

Hi Mom,  Just my published review today.

Dad went with me again, which is nice. I have a new play companion.

To readers, GO SEE THE LIVE THEATRE!! Theaters struggle. I do not want to claim it's a dying art, but it's hardly what it was before TV and computers let alone streaming content and handheld devices. So much competition. And yet, the theatre persists, and we should persist with it.


"A Streetcar Named Desire”
a production of What A Do Theatre
Attended Date: February 05, 2016
reviewed by Christopher Tower

From the moment patrons step into the What A Do theatre on Dickman Road, they are transported back in time. For the first production of 2016, What A Do launches “A Streetcar Named Desire.” Battle Creek’s resident professional company excels with this classic of American literature, which won the 1948 Pulitzer for Drama. It is considered to be one the greatest plays of the Twentieth Century and the best by writer Tennessee Williams. From cast to crew to design and direction, What A Do creates a theatrical masterpiece.

Evoking the bygone era of post-war poverty, the set depicts a two-room apartment in the French Quarter of New Orleans. As the show begins, performers strut in shadow behind a backdrop, selling wares and bringing to life the noisy streets of the Big Easy. Later, these street vendors, drunks, sailors on leave, and pedestrians of all kinds begin to surround the performers, increasing the feeling of claustrophobia and squalor already established by the tiny apartment’s crumpled bedding, upholstery-less sofa, and door-less second room, separated by a hanging sheet.

The patron is also transported back in time to an era when theaters regularly enjoyed packed houses and audiences were as likely to sit through a tense, Pultizer Prize winning drama as a comic musical romp. A set of period accuracy by Samantha Snow  and added set dressing by Thomas Koehler along with moody lighting aid in recreating a glorious part of theater history and American history.

Many people are most acquainted with the 1951 Academy Award winning movie starring Marlon Brando and Vivien Leigh, which is more or less the same story as the play version with only minor variations. The show epitomizes the plight of aristocratic southern belles left to make their way in the world after their parents die, leaving them with failing plantations and debts. Blanche Dubois (Katherine Nofs) represents such a woman. Brought up in southern high society, she has expectations for her lifestyle that include fine jewelry, Cadillacs, and servants who run sprawling estates while the ladies of the house sip mint juleps in the cool of the shade.

But Blanche is not prepared for the realities of life, not prepared to give up those pretensions and privileges of her upbringing as her sister Stella (Teri(Christ) Noaeill) has done in marrying a working class man, Stanley Kowalski (Joe Dely). Exiled from her hometown of Laurel, Blanche seeks refuge in Stella and Stanley’s cramped apartment. Blanche tries to carry on with her life as a southern belle while being courted by Stanley’s friend, Mitch (Nicholas Mumma). As the drama unfolds, it becomes clear that Blanche’s pretensions are a sham and that she is a fragile woman, haunted by her past, and on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

“A Streetcar Named Desire” rumbles along like the trains that shake the apartment, which is set too close to the tracks. The show is violent, with outbursts by Stanley, who hulks about the set, propelled by rage, and at other times standing by as an observer, cool and cunning, a waiting hunter. Stanley’s violent outbursts are set against the frenetic vibrations of Blanche’s nerves as she struggles to keep her tenuous grasp on reality, swilling booze and flaunting her fading sexuality for the benefit of any man whose eyes fall upon her. The story’s rising action is matched by the dizzying and suffocating sounds, lights, and effects of the city as they build in volume and clutter, oppressing the characters, until reaching an inevitable breaking point, culminating in a rape that remains one of the signature moments that defines this period of American theatre.

Director Randy Wolfe has assembled a cast as brilliant as the show’s script. Though audiences may remember Joe Dely best as the discerning David Frost in last year’s “Frost/Nixon” or the beloved and wise Atticus Finch in “To Kill a Mockingbird,” here he creates a character uniquely different even from his wilder roles in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” or “Bus Stop.” Dely transforms his whole body, now adorned with tattoos, and shambles about the set, ape-like, arms swinging low to the ground. He explodes with violence so intense it’s a shock to the system. A consummate and magnificent performer, Dely is masterful.

Likewise, he is matched in power and impact by Katherine Nofs in the role of Blanche DuBois. Nofs last performed in What A Do’s “The Laramie Project” in 2011. Finding her own slant on the role that Vivien Leigh has made so famous, Nofs trills through reams and tangled heaps of Blanche’s voluminous dialogue with fluttering intensity. Possessed of an edgy sexuality and a striking beauty along with strong acting ability, especially her sharp diction with so many complex monologues, Nofs is glorious and compelling. Her final moments on stage – reached through driving action that will make patrons hold their breath – is alone worth the trip to the Dickman Road theatre.

The rest of the cast support the two main players expertly. The main contributors are Teri(Christ) Noaeill as Stella and Nicholas Mumma, both of whom deliver solid performances. A long list of extras and small players help to create the bustling French Quarter: Hunter King, James King II, Troy Kilpatrick, Maddy Haywood, Christine Andrews, Rachel Markillie, and Scott Whitesell.

Once again, the What A Do Theatre proves its mettle with artful production values, professional performances, and masterful direction and staging. It is a treasure house of classic and powerful theatre, and this show in particular should be required viewing by all area schools studying the best of literature and the arts.


Reflect and connect.

Have someone give you a kiss, and tell you that I love you.

Talk to you tomorrow, Mom.


- Days ago = 216 days ago

- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1602.06 - 10:10

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