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Preview: A Streetcar Named Desire

Players Catch Tennessee Williams’ Streetcar

by  Bob McLaughlin and John Lieder

Community Players will kick off 2017 with a production of A Streetcar Named Desire, one of the greatest American plays, by one of it greatest playwrights, Tennessee Williams.

Opening on Broadway on December 3, 1947, Streetcar was the follow up to Williams’ first successful play, The Glass Menagerie. Streetcar begins when, after the loss of the family estate to creditors, Blanche DuBois arrives in New Orleans with no money but plenty of fantasies, to live with her sister Stella and her brother-in-law Stanley Kowalski. Tensions arise immediately between the working-class Stanley and Blanche, with her pretensions to gracious living and memories of a golden past. Blanche hopes to escape the Kowalski apartment through marriage to Mitch, one of Stanley’s poker buddies, but the past intrudes on the present in a way Blanche and the audience don’t expect.

The original Broadway production was populated with future theater legends. Elia Kazan directed a cast that included Jessica Tandy as Blanche, Marlon Brando as Stanley, Kim Hunter as Stella, and Karl Malden as Mitch. The last three and Kazan were retained for the 1951 film with Vivien Leigh, who had played Blanche in the first London production, directed by Laurence Olivier, replacing Tandy. All the actors but Brando won Academy Awards.

Streetcar has been produced all over the world and frequently revived in New York. In a 1973 revival, Blanche and Stanley were played by Rosemary Harris and James Farentino. In 1988 the roles were taken by Blythe Danner and Aidan Quinn. In 1992 a revival with Jessica Lange and Alec Baldwin was so successful it was filmed for television. A 2005 production starred Natasha Richardson (in her last Broadway appearance before her death) and John C. Reilly. In 2012 a multiracial production, starring Nicole Ari Parker and Blair Underwood, played the Broadhurst Theater.

Leading our production with strong performances are Kayla Pulliam as fading southern belle Blanche DuBois, Kristi Zimmerman-Weiher as Blanche’s sister Stella Kowalski, and Michael Farca as Stanley Kowalski, Stella’s husband. They are joined by a solid supporting cast of Ben Edwards as Mitch, Chirs Stevenson as Steve, Devon Lovell as Eunice, Jen Maloy as Nurse/Mexican Woman, George Freeman as Doctor, Samuel Willis as Pablo, Patrick Luckey as Collector, and Melissa James-Shrader as Negro Woman. The ensemble does a splendid job of bringing life to this American classic.

Dave Krostal is Director. Judy Stroh is Assistant Director and also serves as Stage Manager. Jay Hartzler and Darlene Lloyd are Co-Producers. Dan Virtue is Lighting Designer and Rich Plotkin is doing sound. Opal Virtue is Costumer. The team of Carol Plotkin and Dorothy Mundy are in charge of properties and Wendi Ayers is House Manager.

The set, designed by Nick Kilgore, depicts the interior of the Kowalskis’ two-room flat, the street immediately outside the flat and a stairway leading to their neighbor’s apartment.

The show opens Thursday, January 12 with a pay-what-you-can preview performance and runs just two weekends with regular performances of January 13, 14, 15, 20, 21 and 22. Note that there is no Thursday performance the second weekend. Although the language is fairly tame, Streetcar has adult themes, intense situations and some violence.

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Photos by John Lieder