Thursday, October 24, 2019

A Nostalgic Road Trip

I usually post something about our travels.  This one is way overdue as in late September we took a 2,400 mile road trip catching up with old friends and revisiting favorite places, but also experiencing some very delightful times, unique to this trip.

We started out by having a dinner in Savannah with friends who we first met while boating in Connecticut, Suzanne and George, reminiscing about old times and philosophical discussions about the randomness of life which brought us to Florida and they to Savannah.  In spite of changes, health challenges we’ve managed to stay in touch and to be emotionally close.

This was an overnight stop on the way to our initial destination, Asheville, NC; staying first at a condo we once rented 15 or 16 years ago in the Asheville Racquet Club.  Very neat and clean, we shopped a little for breakfast stuff as we were very familiar with the whole neighborhood.  But where there was once a cow pasture opposite the condo there are now apartments.  In fact, the entire area south of Asheville has been built up, new neighborhoods and condos galore.  Traffic was a nightmare, although we were there before the peak fall season.

We called our old friends Irene and Pete who live in Flatrock to confirm lunch sometime during the week.  We spent our first Sunday walking all over downtown Asheville, grabbing a bite at Early Girl Cafe, having a cappuccino in our favorite bookstore, Malaprop, and just enjoying a town we had come to love. It’s become even more gentrified on the one hand, with pricey shops, restaurants, and an arts district, but still a destination for a hippie population of young people, reminding me of my days in the East Village of NY.

I’ve always made it a point when we’re in Asheville to buy a hardcover book from Malaprop, usually a signed edition, this time Salman Rushdie’s Quichotte.  The problem with purchasing a signed hardcover with a jacket is trying to keep it in pristine condition, so no notations and careful handling to preserve the cover in its original condition.  It’s the publisher in me that appreciates the physical attributes of a book, but not the book reviewer.  Nonetheless, I’ll have something to say about it as I make my way through it.  So many interruptions now, as I am finally getting things back together after the summer.

One day we took a familiar drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway up into the Pisgah National Forest and enjoyed a delicious luncheon at the Pisgah Inn with breathtaking views.  Everyone who has ever visited us while we rented previous years here, George and Suzanne and our son, Jon, were all treated to the views and food here. 

Vacations often allow us a special treat, like going to the movies!  So one afternoon, we found a nearby theatre, so close in fact; we could have walked there to see the newly released movie, Downton Abbey.  We’ve been stalwart devotees of the series and we totally loved a movie that seemed to tie up some loose ends.  We were in a comfortable condo, so between dinners at some of Asheville’s “hot” restaurants, we ran out for soups, sandwiches and salads sometimes.  We were very “homey”.

Time, time, time, what has it done to us?  We met our friends Irene and Peter for lunch mid week and unfortunately Pete has neuropathy in both feet and can no longer walk without a cane and aid.  Irene thankfully is in good health and had hardly changed.  We picked right up where we left off.  We saw them again our last night in Asheville at a fabulous Greek Restaurant right on the grounds of our hotel, The Golden Fleece in Grovewood Village (more on that site below).

It may seem strange that after our condo stay, we packed up and departed for a nearby hotel which we originally booked when we conjured up this road trip.  But this isn’t just any Hotel.  It is the iconic Grove Park Inn, where we have talked about staying during our other visits to Asheville.  Although it was 9:00AM in the morning when we checked in, luckily they had our room ready for us.  There was a method to our madness as on no other occasion would we show up so early and expect to check in.  No it was because Ann had her heart set on spending the day in their world class Spa and in order to do that, we needed to show up, together and ready to enter the Spa at 10:00AM to purchase the very scarce Spa Day Passes. 

Lucked out again, getting our passes and changing into our suits and with spa robes and slippers met in the pool area.  Nothing electronic is allowed, only a book or magazine and library voices.  We swam in the mineral pools, sat under waterfalls, went outside on a beautiful sunny day and enjoyed an enormous heated pool with jets, lounged on the chaises, enjoyed lobster salads al fresco in front of a roaring fireplace while Ann drank icy Prosecco.  We swam and relaxed and were there the entire day.  By the time we showered, shampooed and dressed, we were totally waterlogged!  Then we rested a bit as our dinner wasn’t until 8:15PM on the magnificent Terrace Restaurant overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountain Range.  Ann had a fantastic piece of Chilean Sea bass cooked to perfection.

The next morning, upon awakening in such an historic and magnificent Hotel, where 10 Presidents going back to Calvin Coolidge have stayed, including Obama, who visited twice in fact, plus thousands of luminaries from famous writers like F. Scott Fitzgerald, inventors like Edison, artists, actors, industrialists, athletes  etc., we decided to spend a good part of the day simply exploring the hotel and all the historical artifacts, portraits and photographs, many of the actual excavation and construction of this unusual stone edifice.

In fact, that weekend the Hotel was honoring F. Scott Fitzgerald who occupied rooms 441 and 443 in the original Inn during two summers while his wife Zelda was convalescing in Asheville.  Those rooms were opened to the public, with memorabilia appropriate for those years, imagining how it might have looked, his desk, his bed, but the view out the window and down the hall are of course the same.  Fitzgerald thought he’d pick up enough gossip at the Inn to write a number of short stories, but he mostly lounged and drank.  He even invited “women of the night” to his rooms, while the Inn made an unsuccessful effort to cut off his drinking and even philandering, all to no avail.  Fitzgerald, the charmer, was a generous tipper so the help managed to smuggle in all the gin and other things he wanted.

The next morning, we agreed to experience something very extravagant and special, the Grove Park Inn famous Blue Ridge Breakfast Buffet.  It is almost impossible to describe the cavernous rooms with an enormous variety of breakfast food of every description, including an omelet/waffle station and 15 or 20 heated casseroles containing eggs and meats of every description including a spinach frittata.  There was an enormous array of homemade breads and pastries, southern biscuits, pots of fresh whipped butter and jams and jellies. Tons of gravlax and lox and smoked fish with bagels and all the accoutrements plus of course every hot cereal imaginable as well as an entire area devoted to cold cereals with fresh fruits and a large variety of yogurts and sauces. 

We had a table next to large beautiful windows overlooking the exquisite grounds as well as the omnipresent majestic mountain range.  Our waiter, Stan, an actual Ashevillian, continually refilled our coffee cups every 30 seconds.   Totally self indulgent.  We waddled away.  The best part, we skipped lunch.

Frequently overlooked is one of Asheville's hidden gems, which is adjacent to the Grove Park Inn: Grovewood Village, an historic site which once housed the weaving and woodworking operations of Biltmore Industries.  Here we spent an entire afternoon touring working artist studios, the Biltmore Industries Homespun Museum, a very large gift shop filled with unimaginably beautiful hand crafts from woven goods to jewelry to large pieces of furniture, all hand rendered.  And then there was Asheville’s only antique car museum, which had a wide range of antique cars (although, some, cars of my youth).   We were lucky enough to have a docent lead us around and even admit us into the cavernous building which once, long ago, housed the looming business, not set up for visitors but I appreciated the way it once was, the way it was left. 

Their website explains the fascinating history: “Biltmore Industries, a noteworthy enterprise in the history of American Craft and textiles founded by Edith Vanderbilt and two inspired teachers, Eleanor Vance and Charlotte Yale.  At the height of its success in the late 1920s – under the direction of Fred Loring Seely – Biltmore Industries had a total of 40 looms in steady operation producing bolts of some of the finest hand-woven wool fabric in the country.  Orders were shipped as far as China and Uruguay, and customers such as Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Helen Keller, and several U.S. presidents and first ladies.”

At this point, I need to introduce some serendipity.  Ann’s lovely friend, Joyce, has a daughter Terri, who Ann met once briefly.  She, along with husband Bryan, built a contemporary house up a steep mountainside in a little town just on the outskirts of Asheville.  When Joyce heard we were going there for nine days, she told Terri who immediately invited us to dinner.  How awfully nice to have total strangers over for dinner!

Terri is a professional “food stylist” – those lovely pictures you see in gourmet magazines don’t happen by accident.  She is also a French trained cook and she and her husband have lived in Tuscany (did I mention Bryan is fluent in a number of languages?), and her other guests, a gay couple who have a house in walking distance on the same mountain and a condo in downtown Asheville contributed exotic hors d'oeuvres.

It was a long, festive night, with a delicious dinner and homemade chocolate chip cookies to end a perfect meal and when time came to leave, the wisdom of my-forward-thinking when we first arrived paid off.  When we drove up the narrow mountain road and squeezed into their driveway, I thought there is no way I would be able to turn around in the dark to go back down the mountain, unless I back into the driveway while I can still see it.  So, as we emerged into the blackness of the night, I was feeling pretty good about the decision until I realized that one could hardly find the car.  Their neighborhood association has a no light policy at night so those beautiful dark skies squeeze out every drop of starlight and/or moon light, but the moon was not up.  So we carefully made our way to our car until I heard one of our hosts say, “if you hear a sound, it’s probably one of the bears in the area” (seriously).  It was as if we had rockets on our shoes from that moment to get into the car.  Mountain living would appeal to me, but this old salt is shipwrecked at water’s edge.

We left Asheville for an overnight in Cary, NC, near one of my best friends, Ron.  He and Barbara, like Ann and I, come from publishing roots.  Ron and I worked together since 1986 when the company he was working for, Praeger, was acquired by mine, Greenwood Publishing Group.  He and I forged a strong professional and personal bond.  When later he received an offer to run the Naval Institute Press I advised him to take it, knowing full well the loss to us and to me personally not seeing him day to day. Barbara had worked for Oxford University Press and Ann before becoming a Mom in her mid thirties, worked for a division of Academic Press, so we all have a professional life in common as well as similar politics, interest in travel, and let’s not forget food as Barbara made a delicious salmon dinner, our second homemade meal.  It was so welcome to spend a night with good friends, and not at a restaurant.

Ron, like me, was a baseball player as a kid.  And he’s a lefty too, so I promised to bring my mitt which I stuck in the car before we left.  I last threw a baseball with my elderly neighbor (who in the 1950s faced Herb Score in high school, and got a hit!) but it’s been years.  So the questions were a) could these septuagenarians still throw a ball and b) could they do so without having their arms in slings afterwards?  I’ve always wondered watching old timer games, seeing ex MLB pitchers having trouble even getting the ball to home plate from the mound.  Well, Ron and I found we could still bring it.  We probably threw for about 20 minutes, tosses of course, not heat (no heat left), but we felt pretty good about it and the next day nothing hurt.  Now that NY has lost the ALCS, I’m not expecting an immediate call up, but maybe for spring training?

The next morning we left for the Jane Austen Society of North America’s annual conference, this one “200 Years of Northanger Abbey: ‘Real, Solemn History,’” which fittingly took place in our nation’s colonial capital, Williamsburg, VA.  Now in the interests of full disclosure this is one Jane Austen novel I’ve never read (Ann has and it is her least favorite).  But that did not ruin it for us as between the plenary and breakout sessions there was lots of lively talk and presentations from scholars all over the world.  As Jane said “My idea of good the company of clever, well-informed people, who have a great deal of conversation; that is what I call good company.”

The conference allowed us to see other old friends, including Betty and her daughter Claudia, both Janites, who drove down from Connecticut.  We shared a dinner on our one free night.  Also, the evening of the ball is always fun, many dressed in their finest costumes of the Regency Period.

The best part was the location.  We wanted to take in Colonial Williamsburg and scheduled two whole days of sightseeing before the Conference officially began.  However, the weather was uncooperative, 98 degrees with a heat index of 107.  Yikes!  Also, our hotel was a couple of miles away from the conference center, and a long walk into town.  There is a bus which circles the area, every ten or fifteen minutes for which we bought a pass. 

How we could have put a visit to Williamsburg on the back burner all these years traveling between Florida and Connecticut is unconscionable, and I tried to make up for that one morning, striking out on my own, by foot and taking in every bit of history I could.

One of my main objectives was to visit the campus of William and Mary the oldest university in the American South and the alma mater of Thomas Jefferson.  It is right at the base of the Duke of Gloucester Street which is the main street.  I walked much of the W&M campus, classes were changing and I walked among the students, so different than when I went to college holding books and notebooks under my arm.  Now, there are just small knapsacks to hold one’s notebook computer or iPad, and snacks.  I guess they looked at me as one of the old professors, or didn’t notice me at all.  That’s ok.  I drank in every bit of architecture and greenery I could, having gone to a city school which had none of those attributes. 

I thought much of my friend Ron, who I had just visited and thrown a ball with.  W&M is his alma mater and it made me feel closer to him on the one hand and wistful on the other as unlike his father who encouraged him to go there, I had a family who just wanted me to go into the army and the Signal Corps to learn photography and then join my father’s photography business.  No, this campus life was never meant to be for me.

As you probably know, this is a pedestrian only area and people in the town are dressed as they would have been in the 18th century, practicing their trades in real time.  We took in the printer and bindery, the courthouse, the wig maker, the weaver, the shoemaker, among other sites.  At the peak of the hottest day we visited their beautiful Art Museum, which is being expanded, showcasing furniture, weapons, silver, ceramics, paintings, toys, & folk art.  They also have a nice little restaurant.

And, needless to say, we had to have a colonial meal at King’s Arms Tavern where Ann had their house specialty, the peanut soup.  This is made from peanut butter and has the consistency of pea soup.  Delicious.

On the streets we saw ministers of the time, and even George and Martha Washington riding by.  Town’s people dressed in 18th century costumes were moving up and down the streets.  One could spend a week here and not see everything.  We will come back, but maybe in the spring, not summer!

So, after five days and nights there we drove home, made an overnight stop for sleep as a 14 hour straight drive with pit stops would have been too much. Finally, home once again and as usual, trying to catch up!

Saturday, October 12, 2019

A Journey Like No Other – Dramaworks’ Stunning Production of ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’

Palm Beach Dramaworks has skillfully and compellingly taken on an American theatrical masterpiece, Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire.  This leading regional theatre company has been in discussion for years debating the readiness to tackle such a monumental play.  Now was the time.  With their capable staff, technical crew and resources but particularly in the indefatigable hands of Director J. Barry Lewis, it was felt that this timeless play could be successfully mounted with the right cast.  No worries there, as they have brought together actors who deliver with every fiber of their being.  It is a rite of passage for the audience, too, as the drama is high pitched and gut wrenching.  

It is a play for all times but perhaps especially these times, when cultural warfare is underway.  Streetcar is a battlefield where the weak are ravaged by the powerful, where ethereal aspirations are bludgeoned by the brute force of animal spirit and cultural ignorance.  How Williams could be so prescient is the question I ask myself.  Did he see the Norman Rockwell American Dream devolving after WW II and extrapolate into this new reality, perhaps his greatest play?

When Stanley Kowalski makes his appearance, he throws a blood-stained package of meat to his wife, Stella, like a hunter’s “kill”.  It immediately establishes one half of the dramatic equation in the play.  The other half is the arrival of Stella’s sister, Blanche, who appears from a different era, the antebellum south, in “shock and disbelief” as she tries to negotiate the symbolic streetcar “Desire,” which runs along Cemetery Road, to find Stella’s home in “Elysian Fields,” an ironic description of a place Blanche could never image as her sister’s home.  Ironic too that she comes as a faded shadow of her former self.

So the stage is set for the eventual confrontation between these two highly charged, but unequal forces.  It is Stanley who says to Blanche at the climax “We've had this date from the beginning.”  Williams seems to posit that the Meek will not inherit the Earth, but instead a dystopian world of carnal pleasure and poker will prevail, full of pain and alienation. 

Williams’ play is set apart from other American classics by its language.  He was a poet at heart and to listen to the dialogue is akin to being at a free verse poetry reading, the language exquisite in its own right.

Emblazoned in our collective memory of the play – in fact initially I overheard an audience member comment (“I don’t remember it that way”) – is the film version with Marlon Brando reprising his Broadway role as Stanley and Vivian Leigh reprising her role as Blanche from the London production.  But those memories quickly fade watching the PBD version; director J. Barry Lewis’ textualist interpretation of Williams’ work – faithful to the author’s intention -- establishes a powerful, moving production, with superb acting.

Knowing Kathy McCafferty’s outstanding performances in past PBD productions Outside Mullingar and Little Foxes, I had expected her to take on the pivotal role of Blanche with a sense of ownership.  And she does.  Perhaps at first one might make mental comparisons to Vivian Leigh but McCafferty quickly dispels such thoughts and makes the case for why live theatre is so different than two dimensional movie depictions. 

Annie Grier, Kathy McCafferty

McCafferty’s Blanche is the nucleus around which the other major roles orbit, Stanley, Stella, and Mitch.  Their interactions become exceptional by McCafferty’s catalytic performance.  She walks a fine line between fantasy and reality, at times fighting to retain her dignity confronting Stanley but as the play evolves, McCafferty is in a losing battle, taking long baths “to calm her nerves” and slipping into dream-like reveries about her one husband of long ago, a teenage marriage, a boy who was denounced as a degenerate.  She danced with him to the Varsouviana polka the night of his death and those reveries in her mind play fragments of the music, and the suicide shot that killed him.  He was a poet; he was cultured; he was sensitive: all the qualities that modern life has increasingly marginalized.  Blanche lives in expectation of finding those traits again in a man who will offer her love and protection, in spite of a past she wants to forget.

McCafferty leans on her character’s flirtatious inclinations in her dealings with Mitch and even Stanley.  She can turn on the charm and sees it as her last bastion of youth.  That ability painfully reveals a window into her past though when a young man (John Campagnuolo, his PBD debut) comes to collect for the newspaper.  Alone in the apartment, she toys with him but finally says to the bewildered young man: “Young man!  Young, young, young man!  Has anyone ever told you that you look like a young Prince out of the Arabian Nights?  Well, you do honey lamb!  [Brief pause.]  Come here.  I want to kiss you, just once, softly and sweetly on your mouth!  [Without waiting for him to accept, she crosses quickly to him and presses her lips to his.]  Now run along, now, quickly!  It would be nice to keep you, but I’ve got to be good – and keep my hands off children.”  It is an act of remembrance of things past and highly effective in the overall drama, foreshadowing what is to come.

Williams increasingly turns from the early realism in the play to symbolism to make his statement about Blanche’s deteriorating condition and obsession with death such as the figure of the Mexican seller of flowers for the dead.  Williams even comments on his dramatic style through Blanche: “I don’t want realism.  I want magic.”

McCafferty has the difficult role of portraying Blanche already on the edge, her incredulity at having arrived at this place, at this moment of her life, and then devolving into complete fantasy.  She moves between emotional levels like a speeding elevator, sensitive to sound, light, sadness, regret, but carrying some fantastical hopefulness.  Her erratic persona plays out as if she is in a play of her own making.  Director J. Barry Lewis choreographs her stage movements like a trapped animal while emphasizing her melodramatic tendencies.  This is clearly a once in a lifetime role for an actress of unparalleled talent.  The audience is clearly mesmerized by McCafferty’s performance, which by play’s end left everyone breathless!

Blanche’s first introduction to Stanley is through a photograph her sister, Stella, hands her of him in his army uniform, Stella cautioning her sister that she shouldn’t expect him to be like boys they knew back home at Belle Reve which was the plantation where they grew up and was squandered by the family, leaving nothing.  Stella comments that he is “a different species.”

Danny Gavigan, Annie Grier
Danny Gavigan, a PBD newcomer, has played Stanley Kowalski before and he brings with him that experience as well as the necessary physicality to play the role.  He is a terrifying presence on stage, swallowing up the space and dwarfing everyone around him.  Stanley is given to sudden bursts of rage, constantly feeling he’s being conned by Blanche, and is intent on exposing and destroying her.  Yet as much as he is the alpha male, Gavigan cries out “Stella!” while in a prostrate position.  He is totally dependent on Stella loving him, although he is ruthless in his behavior toward her.  It is hard to feel much sympathy toward him, but his acting is remarkable in portraying that sexually dominant male who refuses to let anyone best him, in bowling, at work and even when fighting in the war which perhaps affected his aggressiveness.  But it is his nemesis Blanche who threatens him by stepping between him and his wife, lying about her past and weaving fantastical tales which literally brings out his savage side.

And it is on his terms that Annie Grier (PBD debut) playing Stella loves him.  Grier’s own web site mission statement is particularly relevant to playing Stella: “to tell stories that reveal the human condition as the beautiful, tragic and hilarious mess that it is”.  She’s torn between supporting her sister, even in some of her fantasies, and placating Stanley.  She is the go-between.  Neither work in the end and Grier’s performance of her failed attempt is sadly reflected in the arms of her neighbor, Eunice, as Blanche is led away to an institution.  Fundamentally, Grier’s Stella is captivated by Stanley’s brutal sexuality.  She gives a compelling performance steeped in joy of her impending motherhood and palpable pain in not resolving the hatred between the two people she loves most. 

Brad Makarowski, Kathy McCafferty

One character bridges both worlds of Stanley and Blanche.  Brad Makarowski (PBD debut) plays Mitch, a well-meaning but flawed character.  Makarowski portrays Mitch as “one of the boys” but he is more than that, devoted to his mother who is dying, and although having served with Stanley in the army and being a poker buddy, also has an artistic bent, carrying a silver cigarette case with an inscription by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, “And if God choose, / I shall but love thee better—after—death.”  This deeply impresses Blanche, who was an English teacher who had to leave her town in disgrace. 

Until Blanche’s past is cruelly and crudely revealed by Stanley, Blanche and Mitch are drawn to each other, her seeing him as her last chance and he seeing her – with his mother dying – as a possible wife. (Blanche: “I think you have a great capacity for devotion.”) Makarowski negotiates a delicate dance with Blanche, wanting to be a “gentleman” but having desires.  He is in the climactic scene with Blanche when she tells him about the death of “the boy” – her husband. 

Although the long monologue is Blanche’s scene, Makarowski’s pain in hearing the story culminates in his moving closer to her, drawing her into her arms, and saying “you need somebody.  And I need somebody, too.  Could it be – you and me, Blanche?”  Finally he kisses her.  Williams’ stage notes say “Her breath is drawn and released in long, grateful sobs,” Blanche says the last line of the 2nd act, “Sometimes – there’s God – so quickly!”

The boom is lowered in Act 3.  Mitch confronts her about her past after being a no-show for her birthday celebration.  Stanley has told all the true gossip about Blanche to Stella, but Mitch in particular.  At first Blanche fantasizes he has come back to apologize for being late for their date, but no, Mitch is there to utter the words that break Blanche forever: “You’re not clean enough to bring in the house with my mother.” 

At the conclusion Blanche is carted off in an enigmatic haze (here she delivers the iconic line, “I have always depended on the kindness of strangers”) past another poker game.  While this scene plays out Mitch mostly stares down at the poker table in shame and anger until finally as Blanche passes by he takes a swing at Stanley and then returns to stare at the table.  It is his tragedy too.  Although a more secondary role, Makarowski makes it memorable.

What is played out between Stanley and Stella – a tempestuous, but devoted relationship -- is also reflected in a minor and sometimes humorous subplot between their upstairs neighbors, Eunice and Steve, played convincingly by PBD alumni, Julie Rowe and Gregg Weiner.  The occasional violence of their relationship foreshadows the Kowalskis. 

Rounding out the cast is Thomas Rivera; Suzanne Ankrum (PBD debut); Renee Elizabeth Turner; and Michael Collins.

Although this is a long, serious drama, with two brief intermissions, it flies by, a testament to J. Barry Lewis’ direction.  There is humor embedded in parts and Lewis is careful to allow a pregnant pause for the humor to sink in emitting some laughter from the audience.  One of the sound effects is a sudden screeching cat.  Blanche’s nervous system is always on the edge and at one cat screech she even leaps into Stanley’s arms.  Such humor helps makes this masterpiece a true human tragedy.

The scenic design by Anne Mundell anchors the entire production.  Most notably is the openness of the stage.  There is no place for Blanche to hide, from people, sounds, and light.  It is a cold hard set, not the Belle Reve of her youth.  It is a masterpiece of set design and literally takes your breath away when entering the theatre.

Costume design by Brian O’Keefe focused on pastel colors to contrast to the set and while the working men of the play are dressed as they would be in post WW II New Orleans, either coming home from the factory, or for playing poker, or, for Mitch, a suit and bow tie going out on a date with Blanche.  The big challenge is the number of dresses Blanche required, with several costume changes right on stage.  The design and colors speak southern belle, and especially Blanche’s white lace gloves.

Lighting by Kirk Bookman bathes the stage in dappled light, allowing the time and date to dictate colors and intensity.  Festive lights dangle from the top of the stage.  This is decidedly New Orleans.

As the Kowalskis live near a railroad, the rumble of a train is occasionally heard and this is just one of the many effects sound designer Abigail Nover (PBD debut) introduces.  Mostly it is the sounds of the city, New Orleans music, at the time the jazz capitol of the world, and the haunting refrains of the Varsouviana that are heard during Blanche’s reveries (in a minor key when she internalizes it and a major key when she tells the story to others).  J. Barry Lewis makes the most of these sounds during the most dramatic moments, particularly a train rumbling by.

PBD’s relatively new stage manager, Debi Marcucci does an exceptional job in managing this extraordinarily complicated play.

There are not enough superlatives to commend this production.  Take a theatrical ride of a lifetime on A Streetcar Named Desire.  Palm Beach Dramaworks’ production is live theatre at its best.

Cast photos by Samantha Mighdoll