Williams’ ‘Streetcar Named Desire’ steams with sultry Blanche flirting, raging

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Gallery with ID 6 is empty.

Gallery with ID 6 is empty.Blanche DuBois enters like a delicate breeze after a spring rain and builds to a raging hurricane as her character unfurls and grows stronger with each line of dialogue in the Kansas City Actors Theatre current production of Tennessee Williams’ classic drama, “A Streetcar Named Desire,” at City Stage in Union Station.

Make no mistake, Blanche is the main and dominating character penned by Williams play. Her nemesis Stanley Kowalski spars throughout with her, and her sister Stella comforts and referees the prize fight. Blanche’s last chance at happiness, Mitch, falls for her coquettish facade and finds himself falling deeper and deeper in love and need for her affection.

As Blanche, Cinnamon Schultz delivers each line with laser precision combined with subtle nuances to snare the audience from her first appearance through her exit. Unless directly involved in conversation with her, others onstage go almost unnoticed. The character of Blanche probably allowed Schultz to cross one great character off her bucket list.

The play revolves around Blanche. “A Streetcar Named Desire” actually presents four basic interactions and relationships for the audience to decipher. First is Blanche’s relationship and jealousy of her younger sister, Stella. Second is the volatile hate/lust relationship with her brother-in-law Stanley. Third is Blanche’s desperation to land Mitch as a husband before her time runs out. And, lastly, the biggest conflict involves Blanche’s grip on reality versus her delusions of a persona never fully realized (but imagined).

Added to all that is the lusty love between a husband and wife. While Stanley and Stella await the birth of their first child. Blanche wedges herself firmly between them in a two room apartment in New Orleans during the summer and fall. She arrives unannounced and the tensions begin.

Give lots of credit to the balance of the cast as they interact with the delusional Southern Belle well past her prime. Bree Elrod creates a delicate balance of weak and strong in dealings with Blanche. She is quiet and soft when waiting on Blanche as she was taught as a child. But when in face to face conflicts with Blanche and Stanley turns on the power.

Tommy Gorrebeeck brings a very likeable characterization to Stanley Kowalski. He’s charming and loving, yet animalistic and brutal as the play progresses. His expressions when hearing Blanche criticize him reveal the hurt below the facade. His fighting with Blanche continues to add fuel and steam as the play develops.

As the gullible and needy suitor, Mitch, Matt Rapport provides a very understated and important piece to the mix. He is Blanche’s last hope for happiness. He falls for her charms and flirtations. He shows his characters softness, needs, and vulnerability as Blanche misleads him into her fantasy world of Southern charm.

Other cast members include Sam Wright, Joe Carr, Karla Fennick, Meredith Wolfe, Roan Ricker and Greg Butell. They all provide strong support and characters that allow the leads to build from their interactions.

“A Streetcar Named Desire” is directed by Sidonie Garrett. The elaborate set was designed by Jason Coate. Lighting was by Shane Rowse whose subtle changes helped with the different scenes and intensities of the scenes. Costumes were designed by Mary Traylor. Sound was provided by David Kiehl whose background music, bells, streetcar rumbles and more added nice depth. Properties were by Bill Christie, giving the look and texture of early 1920s-30s. Stage managers were Kelsey Brennan York and Kaley Patterson in this dynamic production.

“A Streetcar Named Desire” continues on the City Stage of Kansas City’ historic Union Station through Sept. 25. More information can be found at the KCAT website, www.kcactors.org.

Image courtesy of Brian Paulette an courtesy of KCAT

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