Baker stage set for ‘classic’
A Pulitzer Prize winning play written by Tennessee Williams and presented by the Baker University theater department opens Thursday in Rice Auditorium.
"Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" is the first staging of a Williams' play at Baker University since the 1960s, when students performed "The Glass Menagerie." Director Bruce Woodruff, associate professor of theater, said "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" is a classic that challenges the cast and appeals to a wide audience.
"We like to think about plays that are good literature with roles that will challenge our students plays the community will want to enjoy and want to come see," Woodruff said. "It's a wonderful play."
The play is a story of a Southern family gathering for what might be the last birthday for the wealthy Big Daddy Pollitt, who is dying of cancer. Greed surrounds the family estate and the characters confront a past of lies.
"It's a poetic and realistic look at what it means to live in a world, and a family, where lying and not dealing openly and honestly with others is a prominent feature," Woodruff said. "The greed aspect is a part of it. Another part a part Tennessee Williams was concerned with was the idea of mondacity and lies, and how we live with lies rather than be honest with ourselves."
The cast of "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" includes Baker students, a faculty member and five local children. Mark Kirk, associate professor of communication and theater arts, plays Big Daddy working with some of the students he teaches.
"It's a good opportunity for him to be on stage again," Woodruff said of Kirk. "He's an actor, a director and a designer. And our students enjoy working with him because he has experience."
Senior theater major Laura Rose said her role as Big Mama is different from the comedic roles she has played in the past and is challenging because of the subject matter.
"It's challenging in what the play is getting at truth, admitting things to yourself and admitting things to other people," Rose said. "I think it brings up some important issues of being honest with yourself and acknowledging important relationships in your life."
Rose hopes the production will draw an audience because of name recognition and because "it is an extremely well-crafted play." Woodruff hopes the same.
"The roles are excellent," he said. "They are well-developed, solid characters with motivations the actors can tackle and work on good characters and good acting challenges."
Admission to "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" is free, and Woodruff said the play is meant for mature audiences. The show takes the stage at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, with a noon show also on Thursday, in Rice Auditorium. The play continues at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 9-11.
Cast of "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" in order of appearance:
Margaret: Jennifer Ward
Brick: Zack Lambert
Mae: Morgan Ouimette
Gooper: Justin Seely
Big Mama: Laura Rose
Dixie: Rachel Smith
Buster: Morgan James
Sonny: Britton Schroeder
Polly: Samantha Brookman
Trixie: Erin Marie Jansen
Big Daddy: Mark Kirk
Reverend Tooker: Jonathan Sanfilippo
Doctor Baugh: Mac McDaniel