ABET presents Tennessee William’s Pulitzer Prize-winning drama “A Streetcar Named Desire” on stage at 716 Ocean Boulevard in Atlantic Beach, Florida until May 26. Tickets are $15.00; call 904-249-7177 or visit abettheatre.com for reservations.
This revival of William’s classic is moody, muscular, and a masterpiece with a solid cast under the inspired direction of DAVE ALAN THOMAS and is not to be missed.
Although to our knowledge it has not been done in the North Florida area in recent years, many are familiar with this play which opened on Broadway in 1947, where it ran for over two years; frequent revivals followed. The 1951 film adaptation starring Marlon Brando and Vivian Leigh is one of Hollywood’s triumphs and garnered four Oscars. Additional renderings included a terrific TV film in 1984 with Ann Margaret and another in 1995 with Jessica Lange and Alex Baldwin.
The story concerns Blanche Dubois (AMANDA MORALES), a fading, fragile and impoverished southern belle with a troubled past who comes to stay with her sister Stella (KELBY SIDDONS) in a very small apartment in the steamy French Quarter of New Orleans. After frequent clashes with her brutish brother-in-law Stanley Kowalski (JOE WALZ), she is abused, loses touch with reality and is ultimately sent to an insane asylum.
Blanche as brilliantly played by Ms. Morales is a woman of contradictions. She is proud and insecure, afraid and haughty, friendly and aloof. She begins to fall for Mitch, one of Stanley’s poker buddies (excellently portrayed by RYAN MICHAEL MURRAY), who is certainly interested in her. Blanche at first encourages his advances, but pushes him away when he reveals he has learned about the sordid details of her lonely past and isn’t willing to accept her continued deceptions.
The role of Stella is more complex than meets the eye and is somewhat overshadowed by the other leads. Stella loves her husband intensely yet also has conflicts, as she tries to protect Blanche from her delusions and Stanley’s rages. Besides that, she’s pregnant. Ms. Siddons accomplishes the portrayal with finesse.
“Streetcar” is your opportunity to see Joe Walz as you never seen him in his many, many stage appearances on local stages. Mean, lean, loud, and demanding, he is a scary dude.
Director Thomas has an excellent cast in the smaller but important roles. ISOM STEVE PHILIPS and TRICIA WILLIAMS play Steve and Eunice, the loud couple who live upstairs. KENNETH DOWLING as Pablo, one of Stanley’s poker friends, is in his second role at the beaches; he appeared recently in the production of “In The Blood” at Players By the Sea.
BRANDON PARIS, a junior at Middleburg High School, makes a long trip to do this show, playing the nifty cameo role of the newspaper collector. Mr. Paris no doubt car pools with EMILEE ESTEP, another Middleburg High junior, who holds the important job of Stage Manager. Rounding out the cast are CLIFF RIGSBEE (Doctor), THERESA DAVIDSON-BUCHANAN (Nurse), LIBRA GYSEL (Neighbor), and AMY TILLOTSON (Mexican Woman and also Costume Designer).
Mr. Thomas, in addition to directing, also designed and supervised the construction of the excellent set. Who would have believed you could put a completely furnished two-room apartment on the small ABET stage? The result is phenomenal and ABET truly lives up to its slogan of presenting “intimate theatre”; you feel like you’re part of the family.
One interesting touch we have never experienced at ABET before is notable. Director Thomas, used actors OUTSIDE the building to create an urban soundscape with street talk and noise. BRYAN FRANK‘s sound design was outstanding and included trains that seemed real.
Don’t miss this production if you appreciate fine acting. It is polished and uncompromising and well worth your time.