Review: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

CenterStage is taking a vacation from their usual musicals and, instead, is producing Tennessee Williams’ dark Pulitzer-Prize winning tragedy, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, a tale of an elite Mississippi family whose lives are intertwined with mendacity that sustains them for many years and, in the end, destroys them.

It is the 65th birthday of Big Daddy Politt, played in profane and cantankerous fashion by Rick O’Daniel Munger. Big Daddy owns a large cotton plantation in the Mississippi Delta and is used to his family catering to his every wish. Big Mama, his wife, played by Glenna Godsey, has been married to Big Daddy for 40 years and lives to serve and protect him.

As the play opens, the stage is commanded by sultry Maggie the Cat, played by Vanessa Cantley. Maggie talks to her husband, played by Max Bolton, who is off stage. He is a former football hero and television sports commentator, Big Daddy’s favorite son, and an alcoholic.

Maggie complains in riotous fashion about her “no-neck” nieces and nephew whose parents are Big Daddy’s other son, Gooper, played by Jason Cooper, and his wife, Mae, played by Jennifer Pollskie.

Maggie alternates between amusing sarcasm and frustration with Brick who has not made love to her in a long time. She, like all of the main characters except Big Daddy, is passive-aggressive though, in the end, aggression wins out so that she, “the cat on a hot tin roof,” can stay on the burning surface of her existence.

Mendacity, which drips like bile from the tongue, is the key word in this entire play. The family has created a web of lies that help them get through each day, month and year.

Big Daddy is dying of cancer, and when medical tests confirm the diagnosis, the family decides to keep the truth from him; until Brick, in his alcoholic haze, lets it slip.

Big Mama has created a “loving” relationship with Big Daddy that doesn’t exist in reality. Brick and Maggie, in unspoken co-operation, suppress the truth about the relationship between Brick and Skipper, Brick’s childhood companion.

Gooper and Mae hide their greed and jealousy from Big Daddy. On the evening of Big Daddy’s landmark last birthday all truths are revealed and truth destroys the family.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof premiered in New York City in 1955, the year after the Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court decision ordered desegregation of the schools which was the beginning of the end to Mississippi’s closed society.

This play is about one family but it also points the way to the end of white dominance in Mississippi and the South. Today, racism still exists in all parts of the country and there is still an unconscionable gap between rich and poor, but the Big Daddys of the United States are, to the current generation, little more than a fairy tale told of days of long ago. Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof helped to point the way.

Next up for CenterStage is Assassins, which will be on stage from October 27 to November 13. For tickets, go to or call 502-238-2709.

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