Review Roundup: CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF, Starring Scarlett Johansson and Benjamin Walker, Opens on Broadway - All the Reviews!
Tennessee Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, starring Scarlett Johansson as Maggie, Ciarán Hinds as Big Daddy, Benjamin Walker as Brick and Debra Monk as Big Mama, directed by Rob Ashford, will begin tonight, January 17, and will play a limited engagement through March 30, 2013 at the Richard Rodgers Theatre (226 West 46th Street).
The design team is comprised of Christopher Oram (Scenic Design), Julie Weiss (Costume Design), Neil Austin (Lighting Design) and Adam Cork (Composer and Sound Design).
In Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, "Big Daddy" Pollitt, the richest cotton planter in the Mississippi Delta, is about to celebrate his 65th birthday. He is distressed by the rocky relationship between his beloved son Brick, an aging football hero who has turned to drink, and his beautiful and feisty wife Maggie. As the hot summer evening unfolds, the veneer of Southern gentility slips away as unpleasant truths emerge and greed, lies and suppressed sexuality reach a boiling point.
Let's see what the critics had to say...
Ben Brantley, The New York Times: [Johansson's] sophomore Broadway performance isn't as fully integrated as the one she gave in "Bridge"; there are a few miscalculations in her take on Maggie. She is perhaps too forthright to be truly feline, and for a poor but well-brought-up debutante, her accent is strangely common. But Ms. Johansson confirms her promise as a stage actress of imposing presence and adventurous intelligence. Her Maggie is, as she must be, an undeniable life force and - as far as this production, directed by Rob Ashford, is concerned - a lifeline...Ms. Johansson is also the only major player in "Cat" who appears to have a fully thought-through idea of the character she's portraying.
Mark Kennedy, Associated Press: Whether all the sound effects are meant to enhance the performances onstage or cover up the acting is unclear. What's not unclear is that an unnecessarily noisy production opened Thursday at the Richard Rodgers Theatre...Scarlett Johansson turns in a nifty turn as Maggie, finding humor and barely hidden desperation in her role as frustrated wife and mother-to-be. She's less overtly sexy than other actresses who have played the ironic role, making her Maggie more cerebral, angry and proud. Benjamin Walker, as her husband Brick, is slow to boil but savage when he does, a former athlete turned into a languid hunk of beef who sits on the edges of the stage avoiding conversation and hiding in a bottle. They have little chemistry at first - but that's kind of the point.
David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter: Somebody spayed the cat. And it wasn't the hard-working main attraction Scarlett Johansson, who plays Tennessee Williams' tenacious feline title character in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. The star and her similarly marooned fellow cast members are all at the mercy of Rob Ashford, a director out of his depth and reaching for any floatation device he can grab in this sinking Broadway revival, which manages to be both thunderously emphatic and curiously flat.
Joe Dziemianowicz, NY Daily News: Fireworks light up the night sky during Big Daddy's birthday party in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof." That's it for the sparks, unfortunately. Broadway's starry but misguided new take on Tennessee Williams' 1955 Pulitzer winner about secrets, lies and love is a dim and soggy affair.
Linda Winer, Newsday: Broadway has embraced many - perhaps too many - breeds of "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" in recent years. Tennessee Williams' hungry and restless Maggie has been reincarnated as a slinky sexpot (Elizabeth Ashley), a sexual bulldozer (Kathleen Turner), an ineffectual flower (Ashley Judd) and, barely five years ago, a smartly luscious kitten (Anika Noni Rose) in the all-black production best remembered for James Earl Jones as Big Daddy.
What we have not had, at least in my experience, is a sedate Maggie in a tasteful, even timid revival of Williams' 1955 Pulitzer winner about voracious Southern-gothic greed and a loveless, lying family.