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Fall Main Stage show spotlights Tennessee Williams plays

10.16.18
Peter Harrigan

The large photo above the headline shows the cast of this year's Fall Main Stage show, "Past is Present," in a stylized publicity photo on the McCarthy Arts Center Theater Main Stage, executed by Aaron Kalat '19 and Matt Fournaris '19, Marketing/Communications interns. Photo directly above shows Director Peter Harrigan of the Saint Michael's Fine Arts/Theater faculty.

This year’s Saint Michael’s College Theater Department’s fall semester Main Stage production will treat audiences to iconic scenes from the most revered works of Tennessee Williams, the tortured but brilliant American playwright.

Peter Harrigan of the College’s Fine Arts/Theater faculty is director and costume designer for this new show, which he conceptualized and has titled Past is Present: The Theatre of Tennessee Williams. The show will be November 1, 2, 3, 9 and 10 at 7 p.m. in the McCarthy Arts Center Theater. Admission to all shows is free using tickets obtainable through Eventbrite at this link: https://pastsmc.eventbrite.com

Caught between strong impulses toward self-expression and self-destruction, Tennessee Williams was one of the most prolific and ground-breaking playwrights of the 20thCentury. This evening showcases some of his most memorable and haunting works and characters, with biographical and thematic material about Williams to connect them.

Other key members of the production team for this Main Stage show include John Paul Devlin, scenic and lighting designer; Peter Jack Tkatch, dialect coach; Sage Fagbohun ’20, sound designer; and Kenzie Wright’21, production stage manager.

Cast members (listed by the Williams play scene they are featured in) are:

This Property is Condemned: Willie – Katie Ort ’20, Tom – Eric Garcia ’22; The Glass Menagerie: Amanda – Mary Carol Maganzini ’78, Laura – Sophie Lizotte ’20; Tom – Keaton Barry ’22; Jim - Sage Fagbohun ’20; Cat on a Hot Tin Roof: Maggie – Jenny Burke ’19, Brick – Owen Freeman ’19; Lord Byron’s Love Letter: The Spinster – Ava Magoon ’22, The Old Woman – Beth Parsons ’20, The Matron – AJ Comeau ’22, The Husband – Adrian Ridolfi ’22; A Streetcar Named Desire: Eunice – Corban Ridlon ’22, Blanche – Emma Drennen ’19, Stella – Molly Lovell ’19, Stanley – Owen Freeman ’19, Mitch – Adrian Ridolfi ’22.

“I’m thrilled and honored to direct some of the most iconic and beautiful scenes in the American Theatre canon,” says Harrigan, who notes that three of the plays represented are among William’s most revered works (“The Glass Menagerie,” “A Streetcar Named Desire,” and “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”) with two other short works included: “This Property is Condemned,” an acting class staple, and the wild card “Lord Byron’s Love Letter,” a Southern Gothic tale in the tradition of Flannery O’Connor and Truman Capote.

“As I was selecting the material, it occurred to me that all of the works involved characters reflecting – often mournfully – on difficult past events that continue to control their lives – hence the title Past is Present, Harrigan said. “These ‘weak, beautiful people’ (as Maggie the Cat describes them) attempt to persevere despite diminishing fortunes and societal changes. Their struggles – as poetically expressed by Williams – are all of our struggles. John Paul Devlin’s sets will echo the once-grand, now-crumbling architecture of New Orleans and other atmospheric settings Williams evoked.”

Harrigan says Williams had particular skill in creating flamboyant but flawed female characters. “I’m delighted to be working with a good friend, who is very familiar to local audiences, in one of these key roles,” he said. “Mary Carol Maganzini ’78 is playing the role of Amanda Wingfield, the faded Southern Belle who tries to help her children make good in The Glass Menagerie. Mary Carol brings grace, warmth and humor to this complicated role, and is both a great role model to and collaborator with our current students.”

He said that since Williams’ own Southern roots are reflected in the words and phrases his characters’ speak, learning the appropriate regional accent has been a key part of the production team’s process with students as well. “Peter Jack Tkatch, who is now retired from the theater program at UVM, has been a great asset as Dialect Coach,” Harrigan said. “I hope this presentation – which will fall somewhere between a traditional performance and a TED talk – will please people already familiar with Williams, and introduce new audiences to this tortured but brilliant writer.”   

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