Manhattan, N.Y. – Unspoken words and lies that divide and conquer families are exposed in Debbie Allen’s Broadway rendition of Tennessee Williams’ classic. “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’s” current Maggie portrayed by Anika Noni Rose stole the show from those who have been established far longer than she.
As Rose, a Florida A&M University alumna, entered the impressively built stage, she took control of the scene and made it her own. She left very little to the imagination as she stripped to her underwear in a desperate attempt to gain the affection of her husband, Brick (Terrance Howard).
You feel her passion as Rose delivered every word gracefully, while she begged to conceive a child and feel the touch of her husband to rid the pain between the two. The characters no longer sleep together because she tried to prove her husband infidelity with his best friend, Skipper.
Howard made his Broadway debut with “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” and his portrayal of Brick was excellent. The distaste for Maggie is evident in every glance and conversation between the two. The hurt of losing not only a friend but also a lover is evident as he refuses to leave his bedroom in a drunken slumber.
Howard’s combativeness made you feel the disdain of the character. Howard’s character would prefer to stay numb to mendacity, which is dishonesty, as he describes it.
James Earl Jones portrays the patriarch of the family – Big Daddy. Jones has been on Broadway for over 20 years with his larger-than-life persona. Jones is hard on all family members except Brick in clearing up the wrongs within his family.
Phylicia Rashad fulfilled the role of Big Momma, as the family struggles to find a way of dealing with Big Daddy’s losing battle with cancer. Rashad, mostly known for her role on the popular sitcom “The Cosby Show,” is phenomenal in this role. Rashad played with the chord of the audience’s heart as her character deals with the impending death of Big Daddy.
Brick’s brother and sister-in-law Gooper and Mae, are portrayed by Giancarlo Esposito and Lisa Arrindell Anderson. The two brought a comedic flare to the stage as they worked in unison to secure their claim of Big Daddy’s fortune but are seemingly unsuccessful.
Performances for “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” are held in Broadhurst Theatre, the show will stop running on June 22. Although each actor gave a marvelous performance there was still something missing. The cast did not have fluidity in its performance. They appeared as though they did not practice together and the movements do not come off as their own.
Maybe Allen’s experience predominantly in musical theatre has been the only downfall for “Cat On a Hot Tin Roof’s” first all-black cast.
The play receives a B+ for the spectacular singular performances but lack of fluidity throughout it.