Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Florida - West Coast

A Streetcar Named Desire
Two Chairs Theatre Company and The Players Centre for the Performing Arts
Review by William S. Oser | Season Schedule

Photo Caption: Chris Hines, Lauren Ward,
and Alana Opie

Photo by Don Daly Photo
For its third annual presentation at the top of The Players Centre season, Two Chairs Theatre Company continues its examination of Tennessee Williams with his Pulitzer Prize winning A Streetcar Named Desire. I am not sure if I have ever seen this great play on stage before, for sure I listened to the Caedmon Records recording of the Broadway revival with Rosemary Harris and James Farentino in my youth, and have seen the classic movie version multiple times. As director Elliot Raines so aptly reminded me in a brief discussion at intermission, it is fascinating how much interesting detail was left out of the movie.

A Streetcar Named Desire is almost gothic in its depiction of the emotional breakdown of Blanche Dubois as she drags her sister Stella, brother-in-law Stanley and all their friends and associates down with her. Ideally, the play calls for nuanced acting, which Two Chairs is unable to provide. The ladies fare far better than the men in this cast. Mr. Raines has clearly prepared strongly and has helped his actors understand their characters within the framework of the play. Alana Opie does a decent job as Blanche; she clearly understands how this lady got to where she is, but can not fully engage the audience's sympathy. The emotional break down, across act two, is not shattering enough. Lauren Ward as Stella is also competent but lacking the emotional richness to make a good performance a great one. Chris Hines as Stanley offers all the physical attributes necessary, handsome looks, nice physique, strong presence, but he lacks the smoldering sexuality so essentially a part of this character. The sexual confrontation between Blanche and Stanley doesn't pack the wallop it should.

Allen Kretschmar can be very effective in the right role. My introduction to his work was as Jean Shepard in the musical A Christmas Story a few years back, but since then he has been miscast in several roles. Mitch, the object of Blanche's needs, is unfortunately another misfit. Joshua Brin and Lynne Doyle fare best as upstairs neighbors Steve and Eunice. Dylan Jones, Ren Pearson, John Forsyth and Grace Vitale fill out the cast in small roles.

Sets design by Ken Junkins is highly effective considering the obviously limited budget. I wish I could say the same for costume design by Ross Boehringer, but it looks like most of the men's attire comes from their personal wardrobes, and there are some glaringly wrong outfits. Most of the women's costuming is far more effective. Lighting design by Bill Najmy gets the job done reasonably well and props by Martha Kesler and Donna DeFant are in period.

I totally applaud Two Chairs Theater Company for their mission of presenting classic American plays. The larger-budgeted Asolo Rep has gone through four seasons and announced season five devoted to a look at "The American Character" without producing one play by Tennessee Williams or Arthur Miller. After three of Mr. Williams' most iconic plays, Mr. Raines and company will be turning their attention to Arthur Miller, intending to do "a quartet" of his plays over the next four years, which I look forward to seeing.

Two Chairs Theatre Company presents A Streetcar Named Desire through September 11, 2016, at The Players Centre for Performing Arts 838 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, FL. Box Office (941) 365-2494. For more information visit

Blanche: Alana Opie
Stanley: Chris Hines
Stella: Lauren Ward
Steve: Joshua Brin
Eunice: Lynne Doyle
Mitch: Allen Kretschmar
Pablo: Dylan Jones
Collector: Ren Pearson
Doctor: John Forsyth
Nurse: Grace Vitale

Director: Elliott Raines
Assistant Director: Donna DeFant
Technical Director/Set Design: Ken Junkins
Audio/Visual/Lighting Engineer: Seth Berry
Lighting Design: Bill Najmy
Costume Design: Ross Boehringer
Props: Martha Kesler, Donna DeFant
Stage Manager: Patty Snyder-Atkins
Asst. Stage Manager: Josh Linderman
Asst. Technical Director: Alyssa Goudy
Photography: Don Daly Photography
Set Construction Crew: Chuck Conlon,l Bill Rusling
Set Painters: Donna DeFant, Martha Kesler, Ralph Nurmela
Backstage Assistants: Chuck Conlon, Robert Sewell, Debbi White, Sandi Sanderson
Lighting Operators: Miranda Becker, Naomi Glatzer, Sabrina, McClenithan
Dressers: Eric Berkel, Casey Kelley

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