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A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE Heats Up Odyssey Theatre

A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE Heats Up Odyssey Theatre

The team behind 2016's acclaimed production of Tennessee Williams' rarely-seen Kingdom of Earth, is back - this time, with Williams' Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece, A Streetcar Named Desire. Jack Heller directs Susan Priver (down-on-her-luck showgirl Myrtle in Kingdom of Earth, LA Weekly award-winning The Lover by Harold Pinter) as Blanche DuBois and Max E. Williams (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., numerous productions with Elephant Theatre Company) as Stanley Kowalski in a visiting production at the Odyssey Theatre presented by Dance On Productions in association with Linda Toliver and Gary Guidinger. Passions flare and cultures collide in the sultry streets of New Orleans beginning May 25, with performances continuing though July 7.

Often regarded as among the finest plays of the 20th century, Streetcar is considered by many to be Williams' greatest work. The story famously recounts how the faded and promiscuous Blanche is pushed over the edge by Stanley, her sexy and brutal brother-in-law. Winner of the 1948 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, the play launched the careers of Marlon Brando, Jessica Tandy, Kim Hunter and Karl Malden, and solidified the position of Tennessee Williams as one of the most important young playwrights of his generation.

"I connect personally with Blanche," says Priver. "She has such an intense desire to bring poetry into her life, even as it unravels. I am always searching for the poetry in my life and in my acting."

Heller - who has directed numerous works by Williams, including The Lost Plays of Tennessee Williams in which he also starred, and for which he won LA Weekly awards for "Best Actor" and "Best Ensemble" - did an enormous amount of research on the playwright when he starred in Joe Besecker's award-winning play Tennessee in the Summer, based on the playwright's life. So when Heller saw Priver in Kingdom of Earth, he knew immediately that he wanted to direct her as Blanche.

"I knew right away when I saw Susan's performance that she is a 'Williams woman'," he says. "All of the women in Williams' plays are, in the end, either his mother or his sister, and Susan is both."

The rest of the cast includes Melissa Sullivan as Stella; Christopher Parker as Blanche's suitor, Mitch; Kelly Carrey and Alejandro Bravo as upstairs neighbors Eunice and Steve; Juan Sucre as Stanley's poker buddy, Pablo; Sean Rose as the teenager collecting for the newspaper who finds Blanche alone at home; and Nadejda Klein and Kevin Ragsdale as the nurse and doctor.

Scenic design is by Joel Daavid, lighting design is by Martha Carter, sound design is by Chrisropher Moscatiello, costume design is by Shon LeBlanc, prop master Shen Heckel and graphic design is by Doug Haverty. The production stage manager is Sarah Dawn Lowry, and Dance On Productions produces in association with Linda Toliver and Gary Guidinger.

Streetcar opened on Broadway on December 3, 1947, directed by Elia Kazan and starring Jessica Tandy, Marlon Brando, Karl Malden and Kim Hunter. The London production opened in 1949, directed by Laurence Olivier. In 1951, the film adaptation, also directed by Kazan won four Academy Awards. A 1952 ballet with choreography by Valerie Bettis and music by Alex North, who had composed the music for the 1951 film, debuted at Her Majesty's Theatre in Montreal. In 1995, an opera was adapted and composed by André Previn with a libretto by Philip Littell. It had its premiere at the San Francisco Opera during the 1998-99 season and featured Renée Fleming as Blanche.

According to Heller, Streetcar is "about the death of the aristocratic old South and the rise of the working class, with its poverty and brutality - the destruction of one way of life and the ascent of another."

Heller was artistic director of the Laurelgrove Theatre Company, which received four Ovation awards for acting in its first three seasons. He has directed over 60 productions in the U.S. and Canada. As an actor, he appeared on Broadway in One by One and LUV, as well as in the national company of LUV. He appeared in Henry Jaglom's Queen of the Lot and also in Jaglom's long-running play, Just 45 Minutes from Broadway, and starred in two long-running shows in Los Angeles: Nuts and Tamara, touring Italy with the latter. He has directed and acted in numerous "Critic's Choice" and "Critic's Pick" theater productions as well as in in numerous television episodes. Jack studied at NYU and with Harold Clurman and Robert Lewis of The Group Theatre. He has taught at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and is a lifetime member of The Actors Studio in the directing and acting units.

Susan Priver's theater credits include Separate Tables and Engaging Shaw (Theater 40); The Guardsman and The Diary of Anne Frank (NoHo Arts Center); Harold Pinter's The Lover (Hudson Theatres - LA Weekly award for best one-act);The Great Sebastians, Ceasar and Cleopatra, Idiot's Delight and Twentieth Century (Lillian Theatre); and many more. Television guest-starring roles include HBO's Lucky Louie and Fox's Space: Above and Beyond. Films include starring roles in the psychological thriller Serving Up Richard AKA The Guest Room, and she wrote and starred in the LGBT festival favorite What's Up, Scarlet? with Sally Kirkland, Jere Burns and Musetta Vander. Other indies include leads in My Brother Jack and Mafioso. She recently filmed the indie feature Year of the Detectives.

Max E. Williams played the lead, Gunter Vogler, in Alan Spencer's, Bullet in the Face, touted as, "the most violent comedy in television history." Guest starring roles include Castle, N.C.I.S., Rizzoli & Isles, Angie Tribeca, General Hospital and Brooklyn Nine-Nine, among others. Recent highlights include a featured role on CBC's, The Detectives, a multiple-award-winning Best Actor performance as the monster in the film-festival darling For Old Times Sake, as well as a recurring role on ABCs, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. His theater family for more than a dozen years in Hollywood was the Elephant.

Tennessee Williams (1911-1983), born Thomas Lanier Williams III, explored passion with daring honesty and forged a poetic theater of raw psychological insight that shattered conventional proprieties and transformed the American stage. The autobiographical The Glass Menagerie (1945) brought what Mr. Williams called "the catastrophe of success." He went on to win two Pulitzer Prizes, for A Streetcar Named Desire in 1948 and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof in 1955. Among his many other masterpieces are Vieux Carre, Sweet Bird of Youth, The Rose Tattoo, Orpheus Descending, The Night of the Iguana and Camino Real.

Performances of A Streetcar Named Desire take place Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m., May 25 through July 7 (dark Thursday, July 4), There will be one additional performance on Wednesday, June 26 at 8 p.m. There will be two preview performances on Thursday, May 23 and Friday, May 24, both at 8 p.m. All tickets are $40 (reserved seating). The Odyssey Theatre is located at 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., West Los Angeles, 90025. For reservations and information, call (310) 477-2055 x 2 or go to OdysseyTheatre.com.


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