Onstage November 1-18 at Playhouse Mainstage, Flat Rock Playhouse presents Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, one of Tennessee Williams's best-known works and his personal favorite. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof first heated up Broadway in 1955 with its gothic American story of brothers vying for their dying father's inheritance. The play won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama that same year and has since been seen regularly on stages across the country. Set in the steamy Mississippi Delta,Cat on a Hot Tin Roof takes us deep into Tennessee Williams country, geographically and psychologically. Directed by Tony Award winning director Marcia Milgrom Dodge (Broadway Revival of Ragtime) and starring Barbara Bradshaw (Big Mama), J. Kenneth Campbell (Big Daddy), Preston Dyar Gooper/Brother Man), Robert Eli (Brick), Michael MacCauley (Doc Baugh), Erin Maguire (Mae/Sister Woman), Scott Treadway (Reverend Tooker) and Adria Vitlar (Margaret); Cat on a Hot Tin Roof swelters with the fire of longing for that illusive shade of happiness. The fierce currents of discontent, jealousy, and mendacity that surge through this piece leave the viewer to fend for himself on an emotional and gripping roller coaster.
Director Marcia Milgrom Dodge offers her perspective on the classic drama. “On a sultry Southern night, the Pollitt family gathers together to celebrate Big Daddy’s 65th Birthday amid secrets and lies so great that the characters roar as if singing arias in an opera. Even today, audiences still crave the poetic language of Tennessee William’s monumental story of a family on the brink of terrifying revelations. This play is as timely today as it was when it first opened on Broadway in 1955. The Pollitt family’s dysfunction lies in devastating themes of monumental proportions: fortune, betrayal, sexual desire, alcoholism, longing, mortality, shame and jealously—sounds like the makings of popular reality television, only this is better, because it’s happening in the moment. This is life.”
Tensions are running high in the Pollitt household. Big Daddy has cancer but doesn’t know it yet. Brick is a self-destructive alcoholic who tries to find oblivion in the liquor bottle to obliterate memories of his involvement in the death of his best friend Skipper years ago. Maggie the Cat ferociously tries to rescue her marriage from Brick’s alcoholic hostility and sexual indifference. Meanwhile, Gooper and Mae circle around Big Daddy, trying to position themselves for a big chunk of the old man’s inheritance after he dies. Big Mamma refuses to accept that her 40-year marriage to Big Daddy has been a sham, no matter how much the man bullies and shames her. Needless to say, with all the lies and bad blood circulating through the Pollitt house, things get much worse before they get better.
For the Pollitt family, money and wealth are tools for how these people survive. Pride and prestige are goals they aim to shoot at. Lies and flattery are ways to achieve the goals and set all their dreams on track. Even with these grand schemes, everyone is in denial. Over the course of one evening, each member of the family displays his or her loneliness by alternately talking or refusing to talk, by loving or by rebuffing love. What makes them lonely is their inability to communicate with those that they love and it is in this essential human drive that Williams creates the heartbreak of this piece.
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is a story about people who talk incessantly, but whose great, enduring tragedy is how painful and difficult it is for them to say anything true. With the strife unfolding before us on stage, the story delivers an unasked-for intimacy. We can’t look away even if we want to, and that’s what Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is all about: facing the truth, accepting your condition, speaking the unspoken. While the specifics are different for all of us, the essential worries and fears of this family are universal, and have been at the heart of a powerful drama for over 50 years. What also remains alive in this now classic American theater piece is the play's comedy, which is strikingly modern. While the matters at hand are serious — Williams' barbed humor is breathtaking. The candor, sensuality and power of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof continue to impact now as it did then.