BTG casts “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” – Pulitzer Prize play about sexual repression

The Berkshire Theatre Group has announced its cast for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, a riveting and visceral drama of the Old South. In this classic Tennessee Williams play, there is a matchless blend of lyrical and earthy language with some of the most intensely drawn characters ever seen on stage. The allusion to a cat skittering across a red hot roof is for real and its once controversial themes require a sensitive and capable cast to pull it off. Nothing less than first-rate actors can provide the jolt of electricity that this still groundbreaking play can generate. Its brilliantly drawn characters and partially hidden plot can still shock modern, jaded audiences.

The story swirls around Brick, an alcoholic ex-football player who drinks his days away and resists the affections of his wife, Maggie. He’s mourning the death of his closest friend and teammate, Skipper. Taking on that role for BTG is the TV and Film actor, Michael Raymond-James. Neil Genzlinger (New York Times) suggests that Raymond-James is “scary good,” in NBC’s new series Game of Silence, adding that he “injects a sense of ominous unpredictability into this well-made revenge thriller.” In addition, Michael Raymond-James has appeared in hit shows such as, True Blood and Once Upon a Time, as well as the feature films, Black Snake Moan with Justin Timberlake, and Jack Reacher with Tom Cruise.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof‘s characters also include Big Daddy, whose enormous fortune is at the center of Pollitt family squabbles. He is dying of cancer but refuses to believe it. Taking on this larger than life role is Jim Beaver (TV: Better Call Saul, Supernatural, Deadwood; Film: In Country, Magnolia, The Life of David Gale). Then there is Maggie, a role which the playwright describes in his notes as having a voice that “sometimes drops low as a boy’s and you have a sudden image of her playing boy’s games as a child.” She’s now a sexy, fiercely ambitious woman who loves her husband and security and will be played by Rebecca Brooksher (BTG: Anna Christie, Period of Adjustment; TV: Elementary, Happyish). Holding her own against these strong characters will be Linda Gehringer as Big Mama (BTG: I Saw My Neighbor on the Train and I Didn’t Even Smile, The Batting Cage; TV: Justified; Film: As Good as it Gets). Cat on a Hot Tin Roof runs at The Fitzpatrick Main Stage from Wednesday, June 22 through Saturday, July 16, 2016. Additional cast members will be announced at a later time.

Rounding out the cast are Timothy Gulan as Gooper (Broadway: The Last Ship), Jenn Harris as Mae (Off-Broadway: Silence! The Musical), and Brian Russell as Doctor Baugh (Broadway: The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial).

When Cat premiered on Broadway in 1955, its themes of repressed homosexuality were too much for some critics and not nearly enough for others. In spite or because of the then-racy material, Cat ran for nearly 700 performances and won Williams his second Pulitzer Prize.

Director David Auburn, says, “We will be taking a fresh look at this great American classic with an outstanding company of actors, aiming for a production that’s as unexpected as it is visceral. I’ve worked with Rebecca Brooksher many times, going back to the Juilliard School. We last collaborated at BTG on Anna Christie. I’m excited to be working with Jim Beaver, Linda Gehringer and Michael Raymond-James for the first time.”

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