It was hot, intense and even steamy Tuesday. No, I am not referring to the weather. I am talking about opening night of “Cat On A Hot Tin Roof” at Okoboji Summer Theatre.
This great Tennessee Williams play is set on a plantation in the Mississippi Delta back in 1955. The Pollitt family, like so many others, faces joys (Big Daddy’s birthday), illness and the dynamics of homosexuality in the 1950s. This family seems to skirt around two of the three and is completely dysfunctional until they realize they need to talk to and listen to each other.
The action and dialogue are intense and not for the faint of heart. Although there are five children in the play, it is not a family show. “Cat On A Hot Tin Roof” is an adult classic.
Gail Humphries Mardirosian is the Dean of the School of Creative and Performing Arts at Stephens College. She directed this classic and had a powerhouse of talent with which to work. She treated the script with respect and instilled in her cast the importance of doing it right. She succeeded.
Sam Cordes is a former student at Stephens who now has his masters from the University of Nevada. He portrays Brick, an extremely alcoholic Pollitt son. Cordes was incredible in this role. He never lost character and appeared to be in an alcoholic stupor the entire evening. He gets a huge bravo and a much deserved standing ovation with loud cheers!
Denise Angieri played his wife Maggie. She was so good that I liked her and hated her, all within two hours.
Cooper Pollitt was portrayed by Chad Fess. This was Fess’s first time on the OST stage after 15 years at Blue Man Group in Chicago along with TV and independent films. He gave the more timid brother character the right amount of backbone in the second act and I enjoyed his performance.
Natalie Irlmeier played Cooper’s very, very pregnant wife Mae. She was delightful but probably could have been even less agreeable. With five kids and another due any minute, she was probably just plain too tired!
I enjoyed Colleen O’Brien as Big Mama. This college student portrays older roles very well.
OST used five Lakes Area children for the No Neck Monster bunch: Polly, Buster, Jonny, Trixie and Dixie. Julia Bailey, Maggie McKim, Myles Krummen, Kiana and Olivia Leistikow played the zealous children of Gooper and Mae. They were adorable and funny.
Perennial favorite Rob Doyen handled the role of Big Daddy with his usual flair and fervor. You always knew where you stood with Big Daddy, from his first words to the end. The violent scenes between Doyen and Cordes were brilliantly done. Bravo to Doyen as well as Cordes!
I enjoyed Okoboji resident Jim Kennedy as Reverend Tooker. He brought some bright spots of humor to the tense situations unfolding. Good job, Jim!
Sydney Scott is a college student assigned the task of playing a more mature Doctor Baugh. She was pretty timid but did okay as did Megan Beilsmith as Sookey.
The set, designed by Mimi Hedges, was super. Costume designer Kerri Packard complimented the set perfectly while keeping the ‘50s time period in mind.
I was exhausted by the time the final curtain fell but was so mesmerized by the story being portrayed to me that I didn’t mind at all. Superb acting in a perfect setting about a family in turmoil makes the classic Williams play “Cat On A Hot Tin Roof” a must see for adults.
The play runs through Sunday night with a matinee on Saturday afternoon as well.