CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF presented Cincinnati Shakespeare Company through April 28. I attended the opening night performance.

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The cast. Photo by Mikki Schaffner Photography.

In a word, Cincinnati Shakespeare Company’s production of CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF is excellent. Director Michael Evan Haney has helmed a detailed and nuanced production that works extremely well in CSC’s new intimate theater.

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Maggie Lou Rader as Maggie. Photo by Mikki Schaffner Photography.

Supported by an incredibly strong ensemble, it is the stand-out performances by Maggie Lou Rader, Jim Hopkins, and Grant Niezgodski that set this play apart.

As Maggie the Cat, Rader commands your attention. Sexy, confident, defiant, and yet exposing her desire to be loved by the very man who seems to hate her.

Jim Hopkins’ Big Daddy is larger than life, loud, and crass; but at the same time shows a sharp mind and open-mindedness beyond his station in life. His grand relief at having survived his own brush with mortality makes his fall to reality that much more tragic.

However, it is Niezgodski’ Brick that sets this production apart from others. Many times, I have seen Brick played as overly stoic, who mainly serves as the target for Maggie’s and Big Daddy’s pleas for answers to Brick’s deteriorating behavior. Grant’s Brick is completely engaged in every moment of conversation and displays a vulnerability in the character seldom seen. Ironically, I seemed to like Brick more the more drunk he became. You could hear a pin drop as Big Daddy and Brick confront their respective truths in the second half of act two.

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Grant Niezgodski as Brick and Jim Hopkins as Big Daddy. Photo by Mikki Schaffner Photography.

The production crew doesn’t miss a beat. Set, lighting, properties, costumes, and hair work perfectly together to create a totally believable world.

Brutally honest, emotionally true, and deeply engaging, this is easily the best production of this Tennessee Williams American classic I have seen.

My rating: 5 out of 5.

Click here for more information on the production.

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