Flora Lynn Isaacson

Reviews

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A Streetcar Named Desire starts Novato Theater Company’s New Season and is a TBA Recommended Production

A Streetcar Named Desire is the 1947 play written by American Playwright Tennessee Williams and which received the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1948.  When I was in Junior High School my mother took me out to a production of Streetcar in San Francisco, which starred Jessica Tandy as Blanche and Kim Hunter as Stella.  It has made quite an impression on me over the years.  Much later (in 1997), I saw another production at ACT, starring Marco Barricelli as Stanley.

I applaud Director Michael Barr for the beautiful production at the Novato Theater Company.  The play is set in the Kowalski’s apartment in the French Quarter of New Orleans in 1947.  Life in the steamy south at that time is reflected in an imaginative set designed and constructed by Michael Walraven with very effective lighting designed by Frank Sarubbi, enhanced by the Sound Design of Stephen Dietz.

The set consists of the bedroom and living room of the apartment, and the outside stairs leading up to the apartment of neighbor and physical soul-mate Eunice (played with gusto by Amy Dietz) and her husband Steve (Matt Farrell).

Blanche DuBois (Amber Collins Crane) arrives here to visit her sister Stella (Emily Radosevich) in terrible desperation hidden behind a charming front.  She is surprised by the smallness and type of apartment her pregnant sister shares with her husband, the ex-Serviceman Stanley (Gregory Crane), and she is horrified by the flimsy curtain separating their bed from hers.  Blanche is also immediately stuck by Stanley’s sullen and sarcastic demeanor.

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Amber Collins Crane is a haunting Blanche – both imperious and fragile.  After a short time at the apartment, she knows the words that hurt Stanley the most, partially because she thinks he senses the truth of them.  Stanley is clearly taken aback by Blanche’s comments and flirtatious taunting.

Later in the First Act, when Blanche has met one of Stanley’s poker buddies, Mitch (played by Matt Gunnison), there’s a new romance.  Then, in Act Two, Mitch turns sour toward Blanche because Stanley has checked into her background and discovered that she isn’t at all the person she has presented to them.fullsizerender-2streetcar

This is truly ensemble casting, and I especially liked the connections of the characters with one another.  Eunice and Steve are character-projections of Stanley and Stella.  Stanley is supported by his poker-playing buddies Steve, Mitch, and Pablo (Javier Alarcon).  Director Michael Barr gets the credit for this, and he is the glue that holds everything together in this piece.

 

His concept further has many of the actors entering from the audience – one in particular being the Flower Vendor (Neiry Rojo) who comes out of the audience to bring roses to Blanche in celebration of her birthday.  The wonderful costumes were inspired by Director Barr and Designed by Janice Deneau with Costume Support by Mary Weinberg.

The play climaxes when Stella has left the apartment, and Blanche and Mitch have ended their romance. Stanley puts on his best pajamas, gets Blanche drunk, and seduces her.  This drives Blanche over the edge into madness.  The production ends as a doctor (Michael B. Harris) comes into the apartment with a nurse (Neiry Rojo), and leads Blanche out as she utters, “I’ve always depended on the kindness of strangers.”

This performance of A Streetcar Named Desire is worth taking the ride.

Flora Lynn Isaacson

A Streetcar Named Desire opened September 9th and runs through October 2nd, 2016, at Novato Theater Company Playhouse, 5420 Nave Drive, Suite C, Novato 94949.

Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. Order tickets online up to two hours before performance times at www.NovatoTheaterCompany.org (print out your ticket from the confirmation email). If you are unable to print out your ticket, your name will be on a list at the Box Office at your scheduled time. The Box Office opens at 7:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday; and at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday.

Photography by Fred Deneau

Coming up next at NTC will be A Christmas Carole, The Musical story adapted and lyrics written by Blanca Florido (who recently passed away from Cancer) with the Musical Score written by Andrew Klein and Directed by Janelle Ponte and Paul Gianetti. It will open December 2 and run through December 18, 2016.