Walnut Street Theatre (WST) continues its 214th season with a Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece in Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Written by literary genius Tennessee Williams (who premiered his A Streetcar Named Desire at the Walnut in 1947), the production begins previews February 14, opens February 22, and continues through March 12, 2023, on the Walnut’s Mainstage.
An American classic, Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is set in the sweltering Mississippi Delta where Brick and his wife Maggie “the Cat” are celebrating the birthday of Brick’s father, Big Daddy. But Big Daddy is disturbed and disappointed by the tempestuous relationship between his prized son Brick, an aging football hero who is desperately trying to escape reality, and the beautiful and feisty Maggie. As the hot summer evening unfolds, the veneer of Southern gentility slips away, and long-hidden truths emerge. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is a powerful, not to be missed, Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece.
Bringing this masterpiece to life is the Walnut’s own Producing Artistic Director Bernard Havard. Havard’s Walnut directorial credits include Blithe Spirit, A Woman of No Importance, The Humans, God of Carnage, ART, Someone to Watch Over Me, Skylight, and Driving Miss Daisy. He has spent his life in theatre as an actor, stage manager, director, managing director and producer. Recognized as one of America’s leading theatre producers, he has proudly served America’s Oldest Theatre for over 40 years. Under his leadership, the Walnut became a not-for-profit, self-producing theatre and has gained international recognition as one of America’s premier regional theatres.
Playing the role of Margaret (Maggie the Cat) is Walnut veteran and former WST Acting Apprentice Alanna Smith. Smith recently starred in the TV movie rom-com, Love Afloat (Crackle) and will be seen in the upcoming Disney+ film Chang Can Dunk. Recent Walnut credits include Young Frankenstein, Noises Off, The Importance of Being Earnest, and A Funny Thing…Forum. Returning after going the distance in his Walnut Debut as the “Italian Stallion” Rocky Balboa in Rocky, the Musical is Matthew Amira playing the role of Brick, the former football hero turned alcoholic. Amira’s theatre credits include Jersey Boys (Ogunquit Playhouse, Fulton Theatre, Maine State Music Theatre), The Carole King Musical (National Tour) and Dirty Dancing (National Tour).Walnut audiences will immediately recognize Scott Greer, who will play Brick’s father Big Daddy, the large, brash, and vulgar plantation millionaire. A Walnut veteran, Greer was the romance rummaging Barney Cashman in the most recent mainstage production, Neil Simon’s Last of the Red Hot Lovers. Greer has also been seen at the Walnut in A Funny Thing Happened…Forum, Laughter on the 23rd Floor, Buddy, of Mice and Men, and Brighton Beach Memoirs, among others. Returning to the Walnut as the grotesquely over-fashioned yet sweet and breathless Big Mama is Wendy Scharfman. Scharfman has appeared Off-Broadway in Through Darkest Ohio (Public Theater), Bird House (Mint), and regionally in Driving Miss Daisy (National Tour) Glass Menagerie (National Tour), and Quartet (WST).
Joining the family as Gooper, a successful corporate lawyer and the scheming brother to Brick, is David Bardeen. Bardeen was last seen at the Walnut in Peter and the Starcatcher, Little Voice, Travels With My Aunt, among others. Playing Gooper’s wife and partner in crime, Mae, is Alicia Roper. Roper was recently seen on the Walnut stage in Blithe Spirit, A Woman of No Importance, and The Curious Incident, among others.
Returning to the Walnut as the tactless, opportunistic, and hypocritical guest Reverend Tooker is Johnnie Hobbs, Jr.. Walnut audiences will remember Hobbs in Thurgood, Oleanna, Driving Miss Daisy (National Tour), The Other Place, and The Best Man. Playing the role of Big Daddy’s physician Doctor Baugh is Michael P. Toner. Toner’s past with the Walnut includes as an actor and director. Toner was recently seen on stage as Clarence the Angel in It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play and as director of Stones in His Pockets. Playing the role of the family’s maid Sookey is Natasha S. Truitt. Truitt recently made her Walnut debut understudying in Rocky, the Musical.
The cast will also feature two teams of young local actors, alternating performances, who will play Mae and Gooper’s children. Violet Mae Badeau of Chadds Ford, PA and Kelsey Noel Briggs of Collegeville, PA will portray Dixie. Gavin Barden of Mullica Hill, NJ and Jackson Deen Goral of Jamison, PA will take on the role of Buster. Playing Trixie are both Olivia Hiepler of Marietta, PA and Faye Lorena Stockmal of Bryn Mawr, PA. Grant Knudson of Collingswood, NJ and Raphael Sommer of Merion Station, PA will play Sonny.
Scenic Designer Roman Tatarowicz (Rocky, the Musical, Blithe Spirit, The Best Man, A Woman of No Importance) makes his WST return to capture the authentic sweltering Mississippi Delta. Tatarowicz will be joined by returning Lighting Designer Shon Causer (Blithe Spirit, Sherlock Holmes: The Adventure of the Speckled Band, Glass Menagerie) and Sound Designer Christopher Colucci. Audience will recognize Colucci’s audio and video work from the Walnut’s many show highlight reels. Costume Designer Mary Folino (Rocky, Cinderella, Beehive, Shrek) will be giving the characters onstage a distinctly southern look. Giving everyone their southern best hair is Wig Designer Carissa Thorlakson (Rocky, Cinderella)
TENNESSEE WILLIAMS’ CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF runs at the Walnut from February 14 through March 12, 2023. Open captioning will be available for the Sunday, March 5, 7pm performance. Season Media Sponsors are 6ABC and Metro Philadelphia. For tickets and information, call 215-574-3550. Tickets are also available online 24/7 by visiting WalnutStreetTheatre.org or Ticketmaster.com.