"Cat on a Hot Tin Roof"

Patrick Tancey, Murray Chase and Amanda Heisey star in Tennessee Williams’ “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.”

Tennessee Williams’ emotionally charged drama, “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” plays on Venice Theatre’s MainStage through April 28. Performances of the 1955 Pulitzer Prize winner are Tuesdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.

“Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” is the story of a Southern family in crisis. Its patriarch, a hot-tempered wealthy plantation owner, faces impending death as his adult children squabble in desperate attempts to secure the family inheritance. Throughout the course of the play, it becomes clear that the family has long constructed a web of deceit for itself. As director Ron Ziegler puts it, “Everyone is lying to themselves.”

In its review of the play, The NY Journal-American said “…Williams has fashioned his most compelling characters.” Those characters will be familiar to seasoned theatre goers as well as classic film buffs who know the 1958 movie starring Paul Newman and Elizabeth Taylor.

Venice Theatre Executive Director Murray Chase plays the role of Big Daddy for a second time in his career. “This time I am closer to the appropriate age and stage in life,” he says. A native of Mississippi and a Tennessee Williams scholar, Chase brings much experience and knowledge to the role. Playing his troubled son Brick is Patrick Tancey. Brick’s wife who describes herself as feeling, “as taut and insecure as a cat on a hot tin roof” is played by Amanda Heisey. In addition to the three leading actors, the cast also features Mary Kurtz (Big Mamma) as the gentle, truth-fearing matriarch, Shawn Genther (Gooper) as the scheming elder son, Stacy Gilson (Mae) as his competitive wife, and Jack O’Keefe (Doctor Baugh) and Dan Cole (Reverend Tooker) as the family doctor and minister who allow themselves to participate in the lies festering in the household.

“Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” boasts a rich history in American drama with many stage and film versions over the years. Stars have included Kathleen Turner, Ashley Judd, Debbie Allen, Ned Beatty, James Earl Jones and Phyylicia Rahad to name a few.

Of the original production, The New York Times wrote, “This is a gripping and intensely moving play … Mr. Williams is the man of our time who comes closest to hurling the actual blood and bone of life onto the stage; he is also the man whose prose comes closest to being an incisive natural poetry.”

Tickets are $25 for adults, $17 for college students, and $15 for youth up to 12th grade. Tickets are available at the box office at 941-488-1115 or online at www.venicestage.com. Venice Theatre is located at 140 W. Tampa Ave. on the island in Venice. Box office hours are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and one hour before show time.

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