Monday, May 1, 2017


Hoppin' Johns..  with Buttered Biscuits fills the new Antaeus Theatre with Tennessee Williams' CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF.  The unique situation that makes this professional theatre company work is the selection of strong 'classic' theatre pieces and the ability to have two A list casts to fill this opening production of the new season. Reviewing this second edition of the William's classic gives me an opportunity to compare and contrast this "Hoppin' Johns" cast with the "Buttered Biscuits" reviewed earlier here.  Strong direction is a must, dealing with specifics indicated by the playwright in his stage directions.  Director Cameron Watson has his hands full with slightly different acting styles and two different children in each cast. I mention the kidlets first because in the rolling thunder (and fireworks) that dominate this Williams classic, allowing for the children is a choice that is a difficult one at best.  Not to dwell on this, but, the children ("little no-neck monsters") stifle the flow of the production.
Tamara Krinsky, Daniel Bess, Linda Park
Photo by Steven C. Kemp
The unsubtle theme of passion and desire come across in very different strokes with this Hoppin' Johns cast.  In fairness, the play has been on its feet for several performances and the first production reviewed was still very new.  Stephen C. Kemp's beautifully skewed set gives the audience a taste of what's to come.. This contentious Mississippi family is in turmoil. The angst of Brick's (Daniel Bess) drunken rejections of his gorgeous wife, Maggie (Linda Park); the celebration of Big Daddy's (appropriaely bombastic Mike McShane) birthday, the abuse of long suffering Big Mama (Julia Fletcher) and the contention and competition for the huge plantation that Brother Boy, Gooper (Michael Kirby) and his overly preggers wife, Mae (Tamara Krinsky) bring shamelessly to the table.. all fall into a ragu of rage, suspicion and sadness ...  a common theme for Mr. Williams.

The issue of maintaining southern accents may be a challenge for this cast, but seemed to even out as the full three acts unfolded.  The brave choice to cast Ms Park as Maggie the Cat works beautifully as she engages feline physicality attempting to bring her long suffering husband back into the marriage bed. Back story of Brick's friendship with his childhood pal, Skipper, leads to an oblique confession by Big Daddy as to how he came to inherit the sprawling plantation now lusted after by Gooper and his wife. Robert Pine as Dr. Baugh, is subtle. John DeMatia plays the Reverend Tooker

It's a long play.  The intricacies of the plot carry us through Big Daddy's birthday ordeal, making the audience engage physically as well as emotionally with the pain and suffering these disparate characters drive themselves through.  The Anteaus production is professional on every level. This company is a gift to the City of Glendale that hopefully will be enjoyed by locals and visitors alike. For fans, seeing both editions of this production is a must! 
    BJ's across Brand is great for a pre-show meal or a nightcap and chatting. 


• Written by Tennessee Williams
• Directed by Cameron Watson
• Starring

Daniel Bess ♦ John DeMita ♦ Julia Fletcher ♦
Henry Greenspan ♦ Michael Kirby ♦ Tamara Krinsky ♦
Eliza LeMoine ♦ Mike McShane ♦ Linda Park ♦ Robert Pine
• Presented by Antaeus Theatre Company
Extended through May 14
Remaining performances:

• Thursdays at 8 p.m.:  May 4 and May 11
• Fridays at 8 p.m.:  May 5 and May 12
• Saturdays at 2 p.m.:  May 6 and May 13
• Saturdays at 8 p.m.:  May 6 and May 13
• Sundays at 2 p.m.:  May 7 and May 14
• Sunday at 8 p.m.: May 14 ONLY
Kiki and David Gindler Performing Arts Center
110 East Broadway
Glendale, CA 91205
(between N. Brand Blvd. and Maryland Ave.)
Tickets and information:
(818) 506-1983 or
First 90 minutes free, then $2 per hour, in Glendale Marketplace Garage 
120 S. Maryland Ave (between Broadway and Harvard)

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