The Theatre Arts’ opening night Thursday of Tennessee Williams’ play “A Streetcar Named Desire” delivered to the audience a production that would have made the playwright himself proud.
The strong performances from faculty and students will take audience through time to a hot and humid post-World War II New Orleans.
The play, written in 1947, made Marlon Brando a star both on Broadway and on the film screen and judging from the performance by the GCC students on the opening night, the future will brighten for many of them as well.
The play was directed by Jeanette D. Farr, and it shows she knows her Tennessee Williams. She manages to cast the perfect actors, for both the roles of Blanche DuBois and Stanley Kowalski. Blanche played by Libby Letlow, looked a lot, with her small frame and blonde hair, like Vivien Leigh from the motion picture version of the play.
Letlow managed to capture the southern accents and the nervous persona of the delusional character.
DJ Kemp who plays Stanley Kowalski gave a powerful performance and even though his character is quite extreme in his emotions, Kemp handledthem all very naturally.
The play starts with a woman standing under a streetlamp, singing a soulful song with a touch of heartbreak in true 1940s New Orleans fashion.
While she is singing, the stage fills up with people, but it is not until she stops singing that the audience is introduced to two of the three main characters: Stella and Stanley Kowalski.
Stanley, a Polish-American, is a hard-working mechanic. Stella, played by Mary Claire Garcia, is a Southern belle from a more privileged background. Although Stella and Stanley come from two different backgrounds, they do not have a problem with that. However, not everyone is fine with them being together.
After Stella follows Stanley to watch him bowl, a woman, who looks out of place by the look of her outfit, appears on the scene looking for her sister’s address. This turns out to be Stella’s sister, Blanche DuBois, who is paying a surprise visit.
After a while it becomes clear that this is not a short visit. It also turns out that the reason for the stay also not what it first appears to be. In fact, a lot of things with Blanche are not really what they seem.
Blanche, is not particularly happy about the man her sister has chosen for herself and is not quiet about her opinions. Stanley however is not very fond of his sister-in-law either, and the tension between them builds by the seconds. The question then becomes: is Blanche really who she makes herself out to be? And who will and should Stella trust?
The play is filled with drama, tension and even some funny moments.
Although Williams’ play itself is something that everyone should see once, the reason for seeing GCC’s adaptation of it, is mainly due to the cast, set designer Guido Girardi, and costume designer Royce Herron.
Girardi and Herron are the ones who should be thanked for the one-way ticket to New Orleans.
Although Williams’s characters are so well-written, Blanche’s role is not an easy one to pull off. However, Letlow with her body language and voice masterfully delivers the dialogue of Blanche DuBois. The fact that Blanche never stops talking doesn’t make Letlow’s performance any less impressive.
Garcia, a regular on the GCC stage, also delivers a believable Stella Kowalski.
Although the character of Stella is a very humble woman, Garcia sometimes takes this too far. At times Garcia even feels more like Stanley’s nurturing mother than his true love.
The lighting and sound is also high quality, and there is nothing about the production that is below average. The play performed Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. This is not to be missed.