BWW Reviews: THE NIGHT OF THE IGUANA Opens at the Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre in Kansas City
Step through the lobby doors and enter the tropical resort that is the stage for The Night of the Iguana. Based on his short story the Tennessee Williams 1961 play opens this weekend at the Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre in Kansas City. Karen Paisley directs this classic tale of desperation, fear, and loneliness with a cast of some of the most talented actors in Kansas City. Paisley designed the impressive set that with a bamboo jungle and a two-story resort takes the audience from the cold Kansas City region to the hot, humid climate of Mexico.
Locked out of his church the Reverend Lawrence T. Shannon works as a tour guide as he struggles with his insanity and the demons that follow him on his travels. Forrest Attaway stars as Shannon, giving one of his finest performances on the Kansas City stage. His delivery is powerful, strong, and deliberate as his emotions pour out as he attempts to set himself free, as he did the iguana, by tearing the cross from his neck. After the night's performance, he said he had been in other plays by Tennessee Williams but his role in The Night of the Iguana was one he had always wanted to play. "I've waited 15 years to be able to perform this part," he said of his starring role.
Manon Halliburton portrays Maxine Faulk the manager of the resort where Shannon diverts his busload of tourist. She pulls off one of her strongest performances as she tries to help the man she secretly loves and wants to stay with. At one moment, she softly tries to comfort him and the next is bellowing at guests and would-be guests.
Richard Alan Nichols plays Nonno the 97-year-old father of Hannah Jerks. Nichols who teaches acting at the Actor's Craft Studio is a veteran of the Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre stage and other theaters throughout the Kansas City area. His performance as the elderly man losing his memory was superb and captured my attention each time he spoke. He has previously appeared at the Met in View From the Bridge and The Seagull.
Hannah Jerks, played by Cheryl Weaver, is the spinster daughter who cares for Nonno, as she tries to exist doing caricatures and watercolors. Weaver's performance of the timid, naïve woman is excellent as she tries to care for her father, comfort Shannon, and keep peace with the resort manager. Having seen her wonderful performances in A Christmas Carol and Romeo and Juliet with the Kansas City Repertory Theatre, her role as Hannah Jerks is one of her most memorable.
The Night of the Iguana continues through March 16 with performances Wednesday through Sunday. Nightly performances begin at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday matinee is at 2 p.m. Purchase tickets at the Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre website, by calling the box office at 816-569-3226, or in person at the theater from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Photo courtesy of the Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre.