‘Cat’ lands on its feet opening weekend

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By Kelsey Jochum, Editor-In-Chief

Continuing its run this weekend is UNO Theatre’s production of “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.” The third production of the 2011-2012 season, “Cat” gave its nearly sold-out audience an excellent opening night performance.

Set on a plantation in the Mississippi delta, “Cat” follows the story of Maggie (Erika DeBoer) as she struggles to understand and coexist with the family she has married into. Meanwhile, her husband, Brick (Nick LeMay), is fighting his own internal battles as he tries to deal with his best friend’s suicide and subsequent contempt of his wife.

As the story begins, the audience learns it is the birthday of Brick’s father, Big Daddy (Colton Neidhardt). As the family prepares for the birthday celebration, they struggle with how they will tell Big Mama (Charleen J.B. Willoughby) the results of Big Daddy’s medical examination and the plans that need to be made for the future.

Complementing the exceptional acting talents of the cast is the fantastic use of music to set the tone of the scene. Though there were a few places were the music seemed misplaced, it was spot-on in others, evoking strong emotion from its audience. This is particularly true in an argument scene between Big Mama and Big Daddy. As the dispute elevates, Big Mama’s emotions eventually overwhelm her, and she’s forced to leave the room in tears. As she leaves, the musical score plays, and the audience is left stunned at the intensity of its own emotions.

The appearances of Maggie and Brick’s five nieces and nephews are another highlight of the performance. Ranging in age from two to 12, the children make only a few appearances, but each one earns a big laugh from the audience, especially when they treat Big Daddy to their own version of “Happy Birthday.”

While the acting overall was excellent, the performance given by Charleen J.B. Willoughby was nothing short of phenomenal. Her ability to portray such strong emotions and infect her audience with those same feelings makes her performance stand out amongst the others.

Directed by Mark J. Schnitzler and assistant director Josh Ryan, “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” is another must-see performance of the UNO Theatre department.  The show will run Thursday, March 1 through Saturday, March 3 in the Weber Fine Arts Building. Doors open at 7 p.m. each night with performances beginning at 7:30 p.m. Tickets may be reserved through the UNO Theatre box office by calling (402) 554-7529 or by email at unotheatreboxoffice@gmail.com.

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