Believe it or not, Scarlett Johansson already has a Tony Award– for her work as a featured actress in Arthur Miller’s “A View from the Bridge.” That was in 2010. Now she’s the lead as Maggie the Cat in Tennessee Williams’ “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.” Benjamin Walker, the star of Bloody Andrew Jackson on Broadway and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter in film, and Meryl Streep’s real life son-in-law (married to Mamie Gummer) is Brick. Of course there’ s Big Daddy in the person of Ciaran Hinds and Big Mama is Debra Monk. There are worse things you could do to heat up a cold Thursday night in New York.
In the audience: Meryl Streep with husband Don Gummer, Mamie and Grace Gummer, Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz, Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan, Tracy Ullmann and her daughter Mabel (who is all grown up and works for The Daily Beast), as well Sarah Paulson (one of my personal faves) and Jessica Hecht (another), ABC’s Cynthia McFadden, Perri Peltz, Peggy Siegal, lots of agents and managers from Hollywood, plus all the Broadway cognoscenti who’ve experienced many cats on many tin roofs over the years. Streep, by the way, is a trouper. She is still getting over the flu, but persevered for family.
The cast in this production all very winning, starting with Scarlett and including the many supporting players like Michael Park and Emily Bergl. We see so much of Debra Monk around New York that we forget she is phenomenal and can do anything. She makes for a wonderful Big Mama.
Benjamin Walker is right on the precipice of being a big star. His Brick is a brooding hunk, but he’s also got a good sense of humor. Hinds, of course, is a most relaxed Big Daddy, very at home on stage as the leader of this warring clan. His second act with Walker rings very true.
Scarlett Johansson is a theater actress. When I asked her about doing movies and returning to theater, she sighed and kind of brushed off the movies. Her next one is “Captain America” Pt. 2 with Chris Evans. “This is where I want to be,” she said. “It’s a relief. I feel so free on stage.” Her Maggie has a soulful strut, and a deep Southern accent that Scarlett has invented. “It comes from some place deep,” she said. “From the Delta.” She gives one hell of a performance, and she’ll be back soon. I have no doubt.