BY TIFFANI HAGAN
A classic of the American stage and the winner of the 1947 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire is a powerhouse of a play and a difficult one to bring to life onstage because of the level of acting needed to take on William’s most complex characters. And Trustus’ production shines and captivates the audience from the moment it started until the curtain call.
Opening the new “Trustus in the Round Series,” Streetcar begins a mini-series of productions at Trustus on their newly built stage. Theatre in the round is often a difficult task- Artistic Director Chad Henderson even jokingly said during his curtain speech that he was not sure how to do the speech in the round (I think he did a great job).
Trustus, however, finds a way to use every single inch of space available to them on stage in a way that fits the show and gives the show a new vantage point for the audience. Giving the characters a central stage allows them to pull you in- there are moments where it felt like one was standing in the room with the characters and not watching them from the outside. Also, by utilizing multiple exits and entrances, the cast eliminates all awkward transitions of characters, something that can be really difficult to do on a stage literally surrounded by audience members.
In his director’s note, Patrick Michael Kelly mentions the ability of theatre in the round “to bring everyone together because for once we can all see each other- this production is a perfect choice to utilize this power and remind those in the audience that our choices are always influencing those around us, whether we wish them to or not. What a powerful way to illuminate the themes of William’s play that focuses on misunderstanding and lack of compassion among its central characters.”
The cast itself is also phenomenal, leading to audience members leaning forward in their seats to pay closer attention. Marybeth Gorman shows an impressive power on stage as Blanche Dubois, pulling the audience in from the moment she walks on stage to the moment she is escorted off at the end of the show. She is a powerhouse as Blanche and captivates throughout the lengthy production.
Brittany Hammock and Burke Brown are stunning as Stella and Stanley Kowalski, each bringing their own power to the stage. Jason Stokes brings a powerful emotional response by his portrayal of Harold “Mitch” Mitchell.
Jon Whit McClinton and Shirley Grace McGuinness play the upstairs couple Steve and Eunice Hubbel- adding at times a comparison point and a few intelligent moments of comedic effect.
Other actors include Tashera Private-Hutcheson as the haunting flower vendor and Pablo Gonzalez; Paul Smith as the lovestruck Young Collector and Doctor; and Krista Gervas as the Nurse.
Other aspects of the show also help to further this phenomenal production and bring new aspects to the show. Jessica Bornick’s costume design adds a beautiful pop of color to the stage and highlights the personalities of the characters in a gorgeous way through their clothing. Sam Hetler’s scenic design brings the world of Louisiana to life, and makes the stage feel like the apartment that the character’s call home. Lastly, Marc Hurst’s lighting design furthers that Louisiana feeling and helps to make transitions more cohesive.
A Streetcar Named Desire runs at Trustus through the 22nd. Tickets are selling out for the last weekend fast, so get them while they are still available! Next up in the Trustus in the Round Series is Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, opening on March 13 through April 4th.
Tickets available at trustus.org.