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Average Rating Given : 4.00000
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REVIEWS

Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, by Tennessee Williams
An Unexpected Surprise
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
4.0
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
Lionheart Theatre (Viewed Saturday, September 10, 2011)

Bear in mind, this is a small, curtain-less community theater with limited seating. So watching a classic Tennessee Williams production in such a venue requires you to adjust your expectations accordingly and prepare to witness an unintentional comedy – or so I thought.

The opening can mislead the audience into a sinking notion this production is nothing more than regurgitated script when Maggie’s (Sarah Frey) incessant dialogue has you wondering if the woman ever inhales as Brick (Ben Humphrey) shuffles between his marks waiting for his cues with an unassuming blank stare.

However, if you can endure the opening sequence, you’re in for a real treat.

The quality of the production takes an unexpected turn once Big Mama (Tanya Caldwell) and Big Daddy (Rial Ellsworth) take the stage. Their energetic stage presence revives the production and suddenly the cast comes alive, the sparse set becomes irrelevant, and the audience is drawn into the family crisis so masterfully crafted by Tennessee.

Akin to finding priceless art at a garage sale, this production will surprise you. See this play. Take this opportunity to catch small town acting worthy of a far bigger stage (and your date will marvel at your ability to find entertainment in the most unusual places).

TLC, by Scott Still
Entertainment on a Budget
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
4.0
With kids and a tight budget, it’s not often the wife and I get a date night; so we cherish those rare moments. Friday night was no exception. I got us tickets to the “Theatre” (spoken with one hand held high and a rich Shakespearian accent). Granted, it wasn’t an off-Broadway production down at the Fox Theatre (so my monocle and top hat would have to wait another day). Instead, we opted for something a little more homespun...at a local playhouse...by a local playwright. The production, called “TLC”, is touted as, “A family-friendly comedy that refreshes like a pitcher of sweet ice tea.” But, little did we know, our low budget, low expectations would belie the evening’s outcome.

This was our first trip to the College Street Playhouse, which is little more than a converted turn-of-the-century church. The tight quarters and pew seating provided an almost confessional type atmosphere. The lack of a curtain left the set constantly exposed, which gave us ample opportunity to study the layout before the actors took the stage. The garish paint, the garage-sale furniture, and hodgepodge props resembled a poor, college student’s apartment – who’s deep-into an experimental phase with acid. (Gotta ease up, it’s a community theater.)

The play opened awkwardly with a husband and wife (John and Tyler) scene apparently meant to establish their youthful exuberance over the Tyler’s newly acquired dream job. However, the intent of the scene was a hard sell due to the obvious age difference between the actors portraying the husband and wife (it’s a stretch to consider a silver-haired husband youthful). I felt like we were witnessing some bizarre pedophile fantasy. (Why yes, little girl, I painted this studio apartment myself. Care for some candy or whiskey?) Fortunately, before I could distract myself with thoughts of “lotion in a basket”, both the plot and my impression quickly took an unexpected twist.

John has an accident while running off to the liquor store, which leaves him in a coma. As Tyler reorganizes her priorities to care for her unconscious husband (I know ladies, she’s not alone), we’re treated to a whirlwind of dysfunctional relatives attempting to make a difficult situation bearable. The inherit humor within the varied opinions and intentions of her family members fashioned a storyline far more complex and stirring than the ramshackle set implied.

With the exception of an uncomfortably creepy dream sequence between John and Tyler near the end of the show (which seemed more like a frantic high school make-out session than a tender moment shared by a husband and wife), this low-budget production was surprisingly entertaining. Sure, it’s not as refined as a Broadway production, but the supporting cast and depth of story helps “TLC” overcome the bargain venue (and score as a successful date night).

Though the playbill may dish this production as a pitcher of sweet ice tea; it’s the generous dose of Southern comfort that livens the brew.

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