KANATA THEATRE BRINGS
TENNESSEE WILLIAMS MASTERPIECE
TO RON MASLIN PLAYHOUSE

by Jim Holmes
February 28, 2007


The powerful and obnoxious odour of “mendacity” will soon permeate the Ron Maslin Playhouse.

That is the theme of Kanata Theatre’s next production, Tennessee Williams’s Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Williams is widely regarded as America’s greatest playwright. This will mark the first production of his work by Kanata Theatre.

And what a work it is! Williams, the author of such unforgettable plays as A Streetcar Named Desire, The Glass Menagerie and Sweet Bird of Youth, all of them also popular screen hits, pulled out all stops with Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. In a plantation house near Memphis a family has gathered to celebrate the 65th birthday of Big Daddy who has in his life accumulated enormous wealth including “28,000 acres of the richest land this side of the Valley Nile”. The knowledge that Big Daddy is dying of cancer and has not drawn a will brings forth a host of evils: greed, jealousy, desperation, and what, at least to Big Daddy, is the greatest sin of all: “mendacity”.

All of the unforgettable characters in this unforgettable play are living some sort of lie. Big Daddy’s wife, Big Mama will not face the reality of his condition. His favourite son Brick shields himself with bourbon from the truth of his past and the ordeal of his present. His beautiful wife, Maggie the Cat, whose bed Brick refuses to share, has failed to furnish the heir that would legitimize Brick’s claim to Big Daddy’s estate. All too willing to occupy the vacuum created by Brick and Maggie’s failure are Big Daddy’s older son, the lawyer Gooper, and his wife, that “monster of fertility” Mae, otherwise known as “Sister Woman”. Mae has bred no fewer than five “no-neck monsters” and has another on the way, an accomplishment with which she hopes to undermine Maggie and Brick. Her lie, and Gooper’s, is her feigned devotion to Big Daddy. Tending the needs of this troubled family are a doctor, an opportunistic clergyman, and several servants.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof was a hugely successful film starring Elizabeth Taylor, Paul Newman, Burl Ives, Jack Carson and Madeline Sherwood. The film received six Academy Award nominations. In the mid seventies, Madeline Sherwood, Sister Woman in both the original stage play and the film, conducted Kanata Theatre’s very first acting workshop.

Award winning director Rosemary Keneford is guiding Kanata Theatre’s production. The cast includes Christine Hollands in the title role of Maggie the Cat, Tim Mabey as Brick, Brooke Keneford as Big Daddy, Gwen Knight as Big Mama, Chris Story as Gooper, Kerri Draper as Sister Woman, Robert Davidson as Dr Baugh, and Jim Ritchie as Reverend Tooker. Joan Ritchie and Lisa Murray are also in the cast. Mae and Gooper’s children, the no-neck monsters, are played by Ethan Hollands, Kaitlin Williams, Daniel Williams, and Kaylie Bourk-Wilson.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof runs in the Ron Maslin Playhouse, 1 Ron Maslin Way, Kanata, Tuesday to Saturday March 27 to April 7. The Playhouse enjoys abundant free parking and is fully accessible. Hearing assist is available. Curtain is at 8 pm sharp. Tickets are $15. The box office number is 613 831 4435. You can visit the website at www.kanatatheatre.com.

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MAGGIE THE CAT IS ALIVE!

by Tania Carriere
March 19, 2007

Kanata Theatre presents Cat on a Hot Tin Roof -
Tuesday to Saturday March 27 to April 7.

Rosemary Keneford (Best Director: Eastern Ontario, Theatre Ontario; Ottawa Critics Circle for Over the River and Through the Woods, 2004) takes on the challenge of mounting Tennessee William’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Keneford will layer the complex emotional dramas of family lies that will challenge the audience to answer Big Daddy’s (Brooke Keneford: Best Production, Ottawa Critic’s Circle, Noises Off, 2006) question “I’ve got the guts to die. What I want to know is, have you got the guts to live?”

The play is a powerful, highly-charged, moving story of a neurotic, dysfunctional Southern family. The occasion is the 65th birthday of 'Big Daddy' - the patriarchal plantation head (who is secretly suffering from terminal cancer), when the extended family (sons Gooper and Brick and their wives ‘Sister Woman’ and Maggie) quarrel - greedily - over the expected inheritance. In the bedroom, Maggie’s advances and lustful sensuality are thwarted by the unloving temperament of her alcoholic, injured, and apathetic husband Brick who is still suffering from the suicidal death of his homosexual friend Skipper. Maggie has allegedly seduced Skipper to keep their homosexual relationship at bay. William’s exploration of mendacity and greed, the collapse of a great American Dream, the deception found in the marital bed and distorted family values are as relevant and challenging to today’s audiences as they were in 1955.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof was a hugely successful, film starring Elizabeth Taylor, Paul Newman, Burl Ives, Jack Carson and Madeline Sherwood. The film received six Academy Award nominations. In the mid seventies, Madeline Sherwood (Sister Woman in both the original stage play and the film) conducted Kanata Theatre’s very first acting workshop.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof runs in the Ron Maslin Playhouse, 1 Ron Maslin Way, Kanata, Tuesday to Saturday March 27 to April 7, 8 pm.

Tickets are $15. The box office number is 613 831 4435. The Playhouse enjoys abundant free parking and is fully accessible. Hearing assist is available. You can visit the website at www.kanatatheatre.com

Memorable lines from the play:

Maggie: I'm not living with you. We occupy the same cage, that's all.

Brick: What is the victory of a cat on a hot tin roof?
Maggie: Just staying on it I guess, long as she can.

Big Daddy: You won't live with mendacity? Well, you're an expert at it! The truth is pain and sweat and payin' bills and makin' love to a woman that you don't love any more. Truth is dreams that don't come true, and nobody prints your name in the paper 'til you die.

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