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Roundabout Theatre Company Presents Tennessee Williams' "The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore"
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Roundabout Theatre Company Presents Tennessee Williams' "The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore"

- Backstage with the Playwrights


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Roundabout Theatre Company
Todd Haimes, Artistic Director

Presents:
The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore

By Tennessee Williams
Directed by Michael Wilson

At
Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre/
Roundabout at Laura Pels Theatre
111 West 46th Street
New York, NY
(Roundabout Laura Pels Theatre Website)
212.719.1300

With:
Olympia Dukakis
Curtis Billings, Elisa Bocanegra, Edward Hibbert,
Maggie Lacey, Darren Pettie

Set Design: Jeff Cowie
Costume Design: David C. Woolard
Lighting Design: Rui Rita
Original Music & Sound Design: John Gromada
Production Stage Manager: Susie Gordon
Hair & Makeup: Mark Adam Rampmeyer
Dialect Coach: Gillian Lane-Plescia
Movement Director: Peter Pucci
Press: Boneau/Bryan-Brown
Casting: Jim Carnahan, CSA/Stephen Kopel
Production Manager: Aurora Productions
General Manager: Rachel E. Ayers
Director of Marketing & Sales Promotion: David B. Steffen
Founding Director: Gene Feist
Associate Artistic Director: Scott Ellis

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
February 2, 2011


Olympia Dukakis, as Flora Goforth, an aging, lonely American, living lavishly on the mountaintops of Italy’s Mediterranean coast, is a powerful, but disturbing presence in this powerful but disturbing, 1960’s Tennessee Williams play. Ms. Dukakis’ Flora has an unspoken terminal illness, and she pops pills like mints, day and night. Her faithful, maligned secretary, Maggie Lacey, as Frances Black (“Blackie”), scurries about at Flora’s bellowing beck and call, documenting Flora’s memoir, through the effect of a total-home microphone system, a bit modern for 1962, especially on a far-away, coastal mountaintop. Flora communicates, at times, to Blackie and the servants, with impulsive vulgarities, heightened impatience, and naked neediness. She pretends that her pills are for minor ailments and that time stand still. She’s both divorcée and widow, and she’s known love and the lack of it. But, there’s no clearer messenger of raw rejection than that expressed by the Witch of Capri (Edward Hibbert), a bitingly caustic character who prances and preens and provokes with an explosion of humor and histrionics. The moment the Witch appeared onstage, I knew Mr. Hibbert would save this play.

While the Witch is the messenger of raw rejection, Christopher Flanders (Darren Pettie) is the messenger of relief and resolution. Chris is known as the Angel of Death, a muscular, hormonal young man who helps affluent, dying women find solace in his springtime physicality. For a price, they reach heaven before their time. Yes, he makes time stand still. Flora decided to seduce him, before she fully understood his game, so she adorned herself like a Geisha, with black wig, heavy masked makeup, long silk kimono, and fan. It was at this point that the production began to crumble. This overwrought scene, with a melodramatic Geisha, in her dying days, was more than unsettling. It belittled Ms. Dukakis’ professionalism, it did not suit her stature. Moreover, she played this scene for the kill, as if the drugs had enhanced her desperation. Mr. Pettie, as Chris, was too emotionally passive in the role, as he, too, was desperate, to fill his canvas sack with riches and hunt for the next prospect. Ms. Lacey, who’s been seen often the past two seasons, portrayed Blackie with repressed resentment and predictable revenge. But her poker-faced demeanor lacked credibility, until she took advantage of an opportune offer.

Mr. Hibbert’s character could be the kernel of a new production, maybe on the small stage. His Witch of Capri was a show-stopper, full of life, authenticity, and wicked wit. Yet, his time onstage was all too brief for long-lasting impact, as this Williams play seemed staged for raunchy extremes. Michael Wilson, who directed such masterpieces as the three-part Orphans’ Home Cycle, put too much emphasis here on Ms. Dukakis’ grandstanding. Her final negligee scene was cringe-worthy. But, she’s one fine actress. Jeff Cowie’s superb set brought the audience into Flora’s exotic coastal home on a hill, and David C. Woolard’s kimono and fan were riveting. Rui Rita kept the lighting meaningful as day metaphorically turned to night, and John Gromada’s sound and music expounded on the mood. Kudos to Tennessee Williams.








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For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at zlokower@bestweb.net