BWW Feature: 'Meet the Actors' of CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF at Center Stage

BWW Feature: 'Meet the Actors' of CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF at Center Stage

Since becoming a critic at Broadwayworld.com, I normally attend a play on opening night. Baltimore Center Stage has always had a tradition of presenting a "Meet the Actor's Night" one day after opening. My wife and I loved to attend these because they are uniformly informative, educational, and fun. Normally audiences hear about an actor's past work, how long is the rehearsal process, how was it like to work with the director, is this your first time in Baltimore, what is like to work at Baltimore Center Stage.

Last week we were so pleased to once again attend "Meet the Actors Night" of CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF.

The cast had just performed for about three hours and must have been exhausted yet made it to the stage and spoke with gusto about the show.

They confronted a nice turn-out of interested theater lovers who likewise endured a long production but wanted to learn more about the production.

David Schramm plays the pivotal role of "Big Daddy". I was unable to ask what he does backstage waiting for his entrance in Act II after a 90-minute Act 1. He was asked how his voice holds up since he has so many lines. He wondered what would happen to his voice after the first week-end.

Schramm was asked what it was like to have such a famous and talented Tony-nominated actor as the director, Judith Ivey. He commented he had worked with Ivey for over 43 years and knew her well. He complimented her and emphasized her success by "...making the play funny."

He continued to say that "CAT" was not Tennessee Williams' best work. He spoke about STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE and GLASS MENAGERIE as his best. He added, "This is a play about people and American myths...a golden boy and his future." He felt how terrific it was to have a director who was a former actor. He added, "She encouraged us."

"Big Mama" is played by Charlotte Barker. This was her third play working with Ivey. She then added the two of them in high school were both on the same National Forensic Team. Hard to believe. Then she was asked "Where is the Director?" not knowing that normally Directors are gone right after opening night.

She went on about her relationship with "Big Daddy". She stated, "He couldn't be alone while she wanted anyone who was funny." She emphasized the play concerned culture and politics in post-World War II United States and the decaying plantation existence in the early 1950's. She visited Europe and saw it like an auction house. "It's about horrible siblings, the relationships are difficult, there's much anger and hurt and deals with American myths."

Stephanie Gibson plays the famous role of "Maggie". She was clear stating she felt "very safe" working with Ivey. She added, "She knew what each of us needed." She felt "Maggie" yearned for love.

The elephant in the room concerned the issue of homosexuality. Gibson was quick to point out that the film would not touch this subject. She stated, "Hollywood would not allow a film where Paul Neuman played a gay individual. The movie totally ignored the issue, they danced around it. The story was not mainstream enough. The studio took every ounce of the subject out of the script. Here, not one line was taken out of the script."

Playing the maid is Cynthia Miller who was asked about her role as "Sookey". She praised Director Ivy. "She worked a lot with me. What was my back story, her history. She wanted me to be authentic, to feel connected, not an extra but as a real member of the family. There was humor in her role. She is a phenomenal director." Miller added she was a major in musical theater and was a local actor having attended Johns Hopkins. She wanted to add that Baltimore Center Stage spoils actors. "They know what everyone needs, they know each of our names, they take care of both the actors and crew."

Andrew Pastides plays "Maggie's" husband "Brick" who had injured his leg trying to jump a hurdle in the middle of a night while inebriated. He uses a crutch due to his leg being in a cast. He was asked if he had difficulty with the crutch. Pastides admitted he required a chiropractor every day and between shows.

And now for the news one could only get at one of these sessions. It seems the married couple in the play are wife and husband. Gibson added, "We got married July 1. This is our dysfunctional honeymoon."

I highly recommend this wonderful production. It runs until October 14, 2018. For tickets, call 410-332-0033 or visit www.centerstage.org.

cgshubow@broadwayworld.com

Photo Credit: Charles Shubow

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