Theater review: ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’

We only wish you could see the full scope of the towering, curtain-draped suite where this play takes place; but here, have a look at Scarlett Johansson undressed instead.

Much of the hype surrounding Tennessee William’s “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” now on Broadway at Richard Rodgers Theatre, is its top-name cast. For example, theater fans might have been intrigued to see Tony winner Debra Monk stalk the stage as Big Mama. Many others might have been curious to take a peep at bombshell starlet Scarlett Johansson in the lead as Maggie (the Cat).

The show, which has a run time of nearly three hours, offers two intermissions that seem like a welcome reprieve from the laborious cat-and-mouse games that take place onstage as potential heirs vie for the vast Southern plantation owned by dying patriarch Big Daddy (Ciaran Hinds). That’s because it’s not a play that can rest on its plot. Most of the big secrets — that are to be held up and turned in the light like fine yet flawed gems — come out in the first act. Afterward, it’s just a matter of seeing how the characters bait one another with these revelations and subsequently adjust to each other’s feints. To that end, the impetus should undoubtedly be placed on the actors — though the concept seems to be far from director Rob Ashford’s radar. Unknowns with something to prove might have added a sense of rawness and purity that this production so desperately craves; these cast members are more like show diamonds already indelibly cut and comfortable in their grooves.

Aside from the lush set (literally; its bedroom/bar combo more than underscores the dual demons of Brick, played unevenly by Benjamin Walker), Ashford also spent time on distinctive offstage sound cues, such as shouts, laughter and fireworks, that broke through the play’s most riveting tension at times that were just too well-timed. These often made it hard to believe that a full-fleshed party is actually going on beyond the doors of the sumptuous suite where all of the action takes place. Perhaps this alienation was the director’s intention, but time spent on the punctuation of sound elements might have been best invested in the character’s beats in order to further complicate what is, at its heart, not as much feline but a very human play.

If you go

‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’
Through March 30
Richard Rodgers Theatre,
226 W. 46th St.
$77-$142,
www.catonahottinroofbroadway.com


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Miley Cyrus hospitalized, cancels Kansas concert, condition unknown,…

Singer Miley Cyrus was hospitalized on Tuesday night after suffering what is believed to be 'a severe allergic reaction' to antibiotics medication. The 21-year-old Bangerz…

News

Explosions in new Boston Marathon bomb panic, 'twisted'…

A fresh Boston Marathon terror alert, which caused Bomb Squad officers to order an evacuation while two controlled explosions were carried out, was today being…

Local

D.A. Williams opens new unit to focus exclusively…

D.A. Seth Williams announced Tuesday that he has opened a new unit focused entirely on investigating wrongful conviction claims.

Local

BSL, El to run all night on summer…

Officials announced this week that it would institute a pilot program this summer that would keep the El operational from 5 a.m. Friday morning until midnight Monday morning starting in…

Entertainment

Miley Cyrus hospitalized, cancels Kansas concert, condition unknown,…

Singer Miley Cyrus was hospitalized on Tuesday night after suffering what is believed to be 'a severe allergic reaction' to antibiotics medication. The 21-year-old Bangerz…

Television

'Orphan Black's' Jordan Gavaris talks Felix's Season 2…

Jordan Gavaris plays heroically helpful foster sibling Felix to main clone Sarah on "Orphan Black." We talked to him about what’s ahead for him in…

Going Out

Here's what to do in Philly this weekend

FILM 'Through a Lens Darkly'  Thursday, April 17, 6 p.m. Philadelphia Photo Arts Center 1400 N. American St. Free, RSVP required, 215-232-5678 www.philaphotoarts.org Join Philadelphia…

Arts

Peek behind the scenes at the Academy of…

Generations of visitors have marveled at the dioramas in the Academy of Natural Sciences, watching apprehensively at the puma perpetually poised to attack the unsuspecting…

U.S. Soccer

Andrew Wenger has big shoes to fill on…

Lancaster County native Andrew Wenger will feel pressure to fill the shoes of departer forward Jack McInerney.

NBA

NBA Power Rankings: Are the Spurs frauds? Could…

NBA Power Rankings: Are the Spurs frauds? Could the Mavericks surprise?

NBA

Sixers, Michael Carter-Williams give fans a happy ending…

The 2013-14 season for the 76ers has nearly come to a close.

NHL

Flyers must make Rangers feel their presence

Perhaps it’s the proximity of the two biggest cities in the East, because whenever these two square off the intensity seems to rise.

Home

Steal home decorating tips from Nattystyle blogger Natalie…

Despite the towering ceilings and enviable exposed brick, it’s easy to see how Natalie Decleve’s apartment could be considered a challenge. Perched above the streets…

Home

How to plant a garden in the city

Small on space but big on gardening? You can still have that welcoming oasis of fresh air with an urban garden. Peter Smith, owner of…

Style

Victoria's Secret Fashion Show moving to England

It will still broadcast on CBS this fall.

Tech

Google Glass finally goes on sale for regular…

The Google Glass finally went on sale for regular people. It only costs $1,500.