This past Sunday I watched my cousin Julie walk around the bedroom in her slip while her alcoholic husband Andy hopped around on a crutch between the porch and a pile of whiskey bottles on his dresser. Far too early in the year for our family reunion, it turned out that they were playing the leads in the Tennessee Williams play “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” at the Rose Theatre in Forsyth, south of Atlanta, toward Macon (yes, they’re the same people who introduced me to Chef Tony). As there are no time machines, space ships or half-naked, chainmail-bikini-wearing temptresses in this play it had entirely escaped my attention until now.
I always think of my cousin Julie as being shy so it was surprising to see her strutting around on-stage in her slip as “Maggie the Cat”, confidently rattling off lines like a pro. Though her costume was hardly revealing you’d have thought that Julie had stripped naked and started doing cartwheels up the aisle while whistling the Brazilian national anthem if you’d listened my Mom’s version of the play. As scandalous as Julie’s inferred near-nudity was, it was even more amusing when the actor playing Big Daddy began to repeatedly utter the 50’s profanity “poontang”, sending ripples through the audience. From my vantage in the top row in the back of the audience I could see practically every head on the right side of the audience begin to bob from side to side as people leaned over to whisper to each other… “did he just say what I thought he did?” — this was especially amusing because more than 20 of those head-bobbers were church friends that my Uncle Charles, Julie’s Dad, had invited to the night’s show. Ooops!
This play marks the first time that Julie’s husband Andy has acted on-stage, and he did a great job for a first-time stage actor who’s landed a lead role. After this show the question is now whether or not Andy will return to working behind the scenes running the lights for the theatre company. I look forward to many years of teasing them about this play!