The Tennessee Williams Theatre Company New Orleans (TWTC) is gearing up for the closing weekend of their latest play, Suddenly Last Summer. This rendition of the famous Tennessee Williams masterpiece premiered during the recent Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival and has enjoyed a successful run, playing to a nearly sold-out house and gaining critical acclaim.
Set in a mansion in New Orleans’s Garden District, Suddenly Last Summer tells the story of Sebastian Venable, a poet who has recently died—and under questionable circumstances. We learn about Venable through the tales and memories of his mother Violet and his cousin Catharine. But when the two women’s stories don’t match, it only brings about more suspicion and doubt. The show also features lobotomy and flesh-eating plants.
In addition to the play’s Garden District setting and the playwright’s own ties to the city, Suddenly Last Summer also provides New Orleans flair though its entirely local cast. Gwendolyn Foxworth plays Violet Venable, Elizabeth McCoy (Stella in Le Petit Theatre’s A Streetcar Named Desire) plays Catharine Holly, and Matthew Raetz stars as Dr. Sugar. Other leads include Ann Dalrymple in the role of Sister Felicity and Bianca Siplin playing the part of Ms. Foxhill. In addition, the set, filled with gardens of lush—and hungry—plants, was created by award-winning designer Kenneth Thompson.
The play is showing at the Lower Depths Theater at Loyola University New Orleans, which is the TWTC’s new home. In the midst of celebrating the success of their latest theatrical endeavor, the company is also pleased to announce another bit of exciting news: They are now in residence at Loyola. Says Patrick Gendusa, the new chair of Loyola’s Department of Theatre Arts and Dance, “One of our goals is to develop an ongoing collaborative relationship and internship program with the Tennessee Williams Theatre Company, while enjoying the opportunity to bring an entire new audience to our campus.”
Under the leadership of Nick Shackleford and Augstin Correro, the TWTC is entering its fifth year of creating theatrical magic by bringing the works of Tennessee Williams to the stage. They are “committed to producing captivating, exciting, and moving plays with a major focus on the works of America’s greatest playwright.” Consistently putting on performances that showcase talent, creativity, and passion, the TWTC offers a unique spin on Williams’s plays and does his work justice like no other theater company has ever even attempted. Tennessee Williams is probably dancing in his grave.
Catch Suddenly Last Summer before it’s too late. The last three shows are Thursday, April 11, through Saturday, April 13, at 8 p.m.
Now playing at the Lower Depths Theater at Loyola University New Orleans, 6301 St. Charles Ave., 8 p.m. Tickets are $28 for general admission and $15 for students. For more information or to buy tickets, go to twtheatrenola.com.
Photos by James Kelley.