Broadway Features and Reviews
Broadway Critics Crazy For Cat?
By Broadway Magazine Staff
The new Broadway revival of Tennessee Williams' Cat On A Hot Tin Roof opened at The Broadhurst Theatre to positive reviews this month. Tennessee Williams' classic drama about a family and its secrets has been revived on Broadway four times. Cat On A Hot Tin Roof perhaps is most familiar to audiences thanks to the Paul Newman and Elizabeth Taylor film. Generally, Broadway critics are positive to mixed about this revival; though most are strongly positive about specific performances. James Earl Jones receives nearly unanimous praise for his portrayal of Big Daddy. However, the set and direction of the production meet with less critical enthusiasm. Most critics comment on the fact that this was the first Broadway revival of the play to feature an all-African-American cast. Below is an assorted sample of the reviews:
"The production acquires a haze of sentimentality that makes it soft when it should be sharp... " -
Ben Brantley, New York Times
"I've seen smoother stagings of the play, but this one is well worth seeing... "
- Clive Barnes, New York Post
"Without the reverse casting, however, we would never have seen James Earl Jones as a shattering Big Daddy... "
- Linda Winer, Newsday "Still, especially for the superb Jones, this 'Cat' should muster nine or even more lives... "
- John Simon, Bloomberg
"In the first Broadway production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof to feature an all-black cast, race is less of an issue than gender... "
- Elysa Gardner, USA TODAY
"Her (Debbie Allen the director) most baffling notion, however, involves dimming the lights and training spotlights on particular characters during their more tempestuous monologues... "
- Eric Grode, New York Sun
"Rose (as Maggie) is lithe, sexy and, most of all, volatile, able to convey the antsy quality of a woman unsure of her marriage and her place in a family where she is the outsider..."
- Michael Kuchwarai, AP Drama Critic
"Apart from the enduring appeal of some of the greatest characters in American literature, what redeems this Cat are Rashad's desperately touching Big Mama and Jones's Big Daddy..."
- Brendan Lemon, Financial Times
"Casting an untried stage actor as Brick was a risk, but Terrence Howard delivers..."
- David Rooney, Variety
"Debbie Allen's production attempts to keep the story natural while retaining the luminosity that is so attractive in Williams' writing... "
- Julie Buntin, Broadway Magazine
"As for the all-African-American casting, the only pertinent comment is that it turns out to be an incidental factor in this powerful revival..."
- David Finkle, Theatermania.com
"(Debbie) Allen treats the drama like a sitcom, overemphasizing the humor at the expense of subtlety... "
- Matt Windman, amNewYork
"The bigger problem is that the director and actors too often fail to trust the material, hammering its more outrageous elements home with a lack of subtlety that robs the play of its essential poeticism."
- Frank Schek, Hollywood Reporter
"Phylicia Rashad is a touching Big Mama, especially when she tries desperately to hold on to her smile as her husband's years of disgust bordering on hate explodes... "
- Elyse Sommer, Curtain Up
"...the bold acting that lights up a new production of Tennessee Williams' classic is the real, electrifying thing... "
- Michael Sommers, Star-Ledger Staff
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