“Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” heats up the Oakville Centre

Cat on a hot tin roof
“Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” heats up the Oakville Centre
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Tyler Collins

Tyler Collins

Tyler Collins is a thespian and performer who has worked with theatre, film, and TV across Ontario. He comes from Campbellton, NB, and has lived in North Oakville over 20 years. He is a graduate of Journalism and Performing Arts from Sheridan College. Twitter: @MrTyCollins

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It might be cold outside, but Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is heating up the Oakville Centre this week. The classic masterpiece of Tennessee Williams is the latest production from West End Studio Theatre in the Oakville Drama Series.

This is the first time WEST is presenting Williams’ work on the Oakville Centre for the Performing Arts main stage. But even though it’s been 65 years since its premiere (and 1955 Pulitzer Prize for Drama win), director Yo Mustafa believes the time is now for Williams’ self-admitted favourite play to take the town by storm.

“This play is still relevant,” he says. “We need to bring thought provoking theatre back in style. The Oakville Drama Series is an opportunity for people to see great plays like this one.” Describing what watching this production now on stage is like, Mustafa says “it really is watching the poetry and craft of watching Williams’ play and his words.”

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is about a southern family in crisis, especially Maggie and Brick Pollitt. Set over one night, the family is gathered to celebrate “Big Daddy” Pollitt’s 65th birthday at his Mississippi estate.

But when most of the family learn he has cancer, the family lies to him. Worse still, there’s a question of who’s going to unravel a lifetime of the Pollitt family’s deceit – and inherit Big Daddy’s 28,000 acre plantation.

“The theme is mendacity,” continues Mustafa. “That’s why it’s relevant today. The whole world is full of lies and liars. How do people, how can people live with their eyes closed?”

Even though he’s been directing at the Oakville Centre over 20 years, Mustafa says the playwright’s work has been a lifelong love of his. “My love for Tennessee Williams and my understanding of his work is special. And it’s an honour working with my cast who are willing to learn and listen to what Williams’ is saying.”

The production brings “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof‘s” magic to life

Leading that cast of 12 is Jennifer Farrugia as Margaret, or Maggie the Cat, and Brian Melanson as Brick. Both of them are powerhouses taking on the massive roles, each with their own challenges and interesting qualities.”

That’s a paradox Farrugia has mastered. “Maggie is a lot like me, and in a lot of ways she’s very different,” she says. “I had to tap into loving ferociously because Maggie’s so determined getting what she wants, no matter what it costs. Not a lot of people know how to hold on to that.”

As for Melanson, he knows there’s more to Brick than “drinking like a fish”, as Melanson jokes. “Brick doesn’t say a lot, but there’s a lot under what he isn’t saying. There’s a lot of inner dialogue going on. I’m tapping into his experiences to make sure all those things not being spoken are being said in other ways.”

Mustafa is excited for audiences to be romanced and shocked by Williams’ play and his production alike. It’s the kind of show that Oakville doesn’t often see.

“Oakville needs culture,” he says. “This production is deserving of an audience. People coming will get to see a raw art form.”

The dozen or so actors truly do bring a vivacity and power to a tremendous story. The summertime heat of the south has taken over the Oakville Centre for an unmistakably powerful night of theatre.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is presented by the Oakville Drama Series and West End Studio Theatre. It plays the Oakville Centre for the Performing Arts, 130 Navy Street, until this Sunday, February 9th. Tickets are available online here or at (905)-338-4161.

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