ELKIN — Foothills Arts Council Art in the Garden will present Tennessee Williams’ classic “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” April 22, 23, 30 and May 1. The show will begin at 7:30 p.m. this Friday and Saturday in the garden of Foothills Arts Council, located a 129 Church St. in Elkin.
The cast of the show includes Elkin residents Gary Maxey as Big Daddy and Newell Hauser as Reverend Tooker. Playing the role of Big Mamma is Judy Deck of Jonesville. Boonville resident Sarah Moxley will portray Sister Woman Mae. Also from Boonville, Morgan Harrison and Kitsey Harrison will play the roles of Brick and Maggie. From Mount Airy, Brian Patterson will play Brother Man Gooper and Thomas Beckom as Doc Baugh. Also in the production are Grace Harrison and Carly Mullins as Dixie and Trixie. The play is directed by arts council Executive Director Leighanne Martin Wright with Christie Harrison as stage manager.
Foothills performers have long requested to do the show and Director Leighanne Martin Wright decided the Foothills Arts Council garden was the ideal setting in which to produce the play.
Wright began the Art in the Garden series four years ago and it has included readers’ theater, plays, including two original scripts written by Wright, musical performances, poetry readings, as well as the events already established such as KidsFest and the Open Air Art Market.
“The Art in the Garden shows are always free, but donations help the arts council continue its programming and making art accessible to the entire community,” Wright explained. “The evening shows will start at 7:30 p.m. so people are invited to come into the garden early for their spot, bring their own chairs and coolers. The matinee on Sunday, May 1, will be at 2 p.m.”
The play tells the story of a family struggling with a variety of issues from sexuality to alcoholism and death.
“The relevance of this 1955 Pulitzer-winning script lies perhaps in the human struggle,” Wright said. “The cast is working hard on giving these characters depth and emotion. The intimacy of the relationships are helped by our cast having worked together on many productions and, in the case of Brick and Maggie, are actually married. And it’s always a pleasure to have newcomers join our ranks as Brian Patterson and Tom Beckom have.”
Maxey said the play “could be described as the story of a dysfunctional family.”
“The interesting issue would then be the similarities between dysfunctional then and now 60 years later. We have learned so little on how to heal family wounds,” Maxey said.
Being involved in this classic drama is an honor, several of the actors said, and is the reason they wanted to be involved.
“I have always enjoyed Southern literature and when I saw that FAC was doing this show, I wanted to be a part of it,” Patterson said.
Deck, a veteran performer with Foothills, added, “It’s a great responsibility to try to do justice to a Pulitzer Prize-winning play by a legendary Southern playwright. I am moved by the intensity of the relationships in the play and am excited to have a part in bringing classic American drama to our community.”
Told through a glimpse into one evening at the Pollitt estate in the mid-1950s, the show offers a peak into the life of a family dealing with some difficult situations.
“I was familiar in name only with this show before casting and have come to realize its themes and relationship nuances are familiar and timeless,” Moxley said. “I’m so grateful to share the stage with such colorful characters and to spend time off-stage with the talented actors that bring them to life!”
Newlyweds Morgan and Kitsey Harrison have long wanted to play the roles of Maggie and Brick, though they said it is a challenge to play a couple on the outs.
“This is undoubtedly the most challenging role I have ever tackled, but I am greatly enjoying playing Maggie the cat,” Kitsey Harrison said. “Most of all I am honored to be playing opposite my husband in this classic Southern drama. Despite the fact that this is not a feel-good show, it has truly been a pleasure to work with this amazing cast and crew.”
The play deals with a number of adult topics and is not suitable for children, though the cast does include two children in several of the scenes. Cast members Grace Harrison and Carly Mullins said they are enjoying being a part of the show, though they are kept sequestered in another area during some of the more intense scenes.
“I enjoy playing Dixie because she is loud and obnoxious,” Harrison said. “She has some funny lines that she says.”
For more information about upcoming events at Foothills Arts Council, check out its Facebook page or visit www.foothillsartscouncil.org.