The English love affair with Tennessee Williams continues.
The continued appeal of the plays of Tennessee Williams was demonstrated by the recent program of his early work, under the title Streetcar to Tennessee, at the Young Vic, and will be highlighted by the National Theatre's production of Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, starring Hollywood actor Brendan Fraser.
Now it appears that Williams' fascination with aging Southern belles has crossed media into ballet. Northern Ballet Theatre, the innovative dance company which has specialized in turning classics like Dracula into full-length ballets, is to premiere a ballet version of A Streetcar Named Desire in October, opening at the Lyceum, Sheffield, prior to a national tour.
William's highly-charged play of sexual tension and decaying grandeur, set in a run-down quarter of New Orleans, has always been a favorite with British audiences since it was first seen at the Aldwych theatre over half a century ago, starring Vivien Leigh as Blanche du Bois.
Leigh, a convent-school educated English beauty, whose long, tempestuous marriage to Sir Laurence Olivier made them the royalty of the British stage, scored her greatest successes playing Americans. Her biggest role, of course, was as Scarlett O'Hara in the film Gone With The Wind, but two of her other best parts were playing tragic Tennessee Williams characters: Blanche du Bois in A Streetcar Named Desire (on stage and screen, with Marlon Brando) and the eponymous Mrs. Stone, a fading stage actress who had once been a great beauty, in the film adapted from Williams' novella, The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone. —by Paul Webb Theatrenow