Brookhaven College’s drama program nearly sold out the opening night of its latest production, a modernized version of “A Streetcar Named Desire.”
The script was written by Tennessee Williams. The performance took place in the Black Box Theatre. It made for an intimate space that changed the dynamics of what it means to go to the theater.
The profile stage of the Black Box Theatre allows the audience to become part of the set. Throughout the interactive experience, cast members were often less than an arm’s length away from the nearest spectator.
Michael Robinson and Bonnie DePasse, play directors, maximized the space. The majority of the performance took place on the front stoop of a New Orleans-style row house and an apartment within the building.
The apartment was center stage, with audience members on either side. In lieu of walls and windows, set designers constructed a metal framework that outlined the apartment and gave the illusion of borders within the space.
DePasse said she was pleased with the cast. “These kids in this particular cast are extremely focused [and] very well studied,” DePasse said prior to opening night. “I don’t think I’ve had a directing experience thus far that has been this smooth.”
The cast’s talent was not necessarily indicative of how long they have been performing. “There are some in the show that this is their first time being on stage,” Robinson said.
The crowd favorite varied from scene to scene. However, first to hold the unofficial title was the thoughtfully nosy neighbor, played by actress Marnesha “Nikki” Johnson. With her Creole twang and feisty attitude, she sprinkled comic relief throughout the performance.
Although there was a healthy dose of laughs, there were just as many, if not more, darker moments, including scenes of domestic violence and rape. Chloe Hedrick, who played Stella, was eerily convincing as a battered wife. Daniel Torrez, who played Stella’s husband, Stanley, gave a chilling performance that helped usher the audience into the fictional reality.
Not to be outshined, Dayna Fries played the main character, Blanche. As she crept into the first scene, she quickly demanded the audience’s attention with her deep Southern drawl and perfectly coiffed hair. Her character resembled Scarlett O’Hara from the 1936 classic film “Gone With the Wind.”
Each member of the 10-person cast showcased his or her talent, and if the show’s success was based on applause, it was a job well done.
Audience member David Rosenfield said he enjoyed the performance. “I thought the acting was really exceptional,” Rosenfield said, “and some of the little nuances they added were entertaining and engaging. Overall, I was pleased.”
This summer will be the next opportunity to witness the talents of Brookhaven’s drama program. They will be peforming the play “Avenue Q,” based on the book written by Jeff Whitty.
Performances will be held at 8 p.m. on July 16-18 and 23-25 in the Performance Hall. Additional shows will be held at 2:30 p.m. on July 19 and 26. For more information, readers can visit the Brookhaven College Theatre Department page on Facebook.