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Summary Article: A Streetcar Named Desire
From Broadway Plays and Musicals: Descriptions and Essential Facts of More Than 14,000 Shows through 2007

[3 December 1947] play by Tennessee Williams [Ethel Barrymore Thea; 855p PP, NYDCCA]. The fading Southern belle Blanche Du Bois (Jessica Tandy) comes for an extended visit to the French Quarter apartment of her sister Stella (Kim Hunter) and her coarse husband Stanley Kowalski (Marlon Brando) and tensions mount as Stanley finds out unpleasant details about Blanche's past. Stanley's army buddy Mitch (Karl Malden) courts Blanche until he learns that she is far from the genteel lady that she puts on. When the pregnant Stella goes to the hospital to have her baby, the sexual attraction and hatred between Stanley and Blanche explodes, he rapes her, and she crashes into insanity. Most reviewers immediately recognized the play as one of the most powerful of the era and the original production was legendary in its elements: Brando and Tandy's indelible performances, the suggested but vivid setting by Jo Mielziner, and Elia Kazan's taut direction. Irene Selznick produced. Tandy rose to the top ranks of stage performers with the play but it was the last Broadway role for Brando who turned to Hollywood.

REVIVALS: 23 May 1950 [City Center; 24p]. The touring version of producer Irene Selznick's greatest success came to the City Center to conclude its long national trek. Anthony Quinn (Stanley), Uta Hagen (Blanche), Jorja Curtright (Stella), and George Matthews (Mitch) were the featured players.

15 February 1956 [City Center; 15p]. Members of the press either adulated or despised Tallulah Bankhead's Blanche DuBois but the arguments didn't do much to stir up business. Also cast: Gerald O'Loughlin (Stanley), Frances Heflin (Stella), Rudy Bond (Mitch).

26 April 1973 [Vivian Beaumont Thea; 110p]. The Repertory Theatre of Lincoln Center production was so applauded by the press and public that the limited run was extended from five to thirteen weeks. Ellis Rabb directed a sterling cast that featured Rosemary Harris (Blanche), James Farentino (Stanley), Patricia Conolly (Stella), and Philip Bosco (Mitch). When the revival was brought back on 4 October 1973 [St. James Thea; 53p], the director was now Jules Irving and the principals were Lois Nettleton (Blanche), Alan Feinstein (Stanley), Barbara Eda-Young (Stella), and John Newton (Mitch). Critics disagreed on whether the new cast was better than the one seen the previous season.

10 March 1988 [Circle in the Sq Thea; 85p]. Commentators were disappointed in Blythe Danner (Blanche) and Aiden Quinn (Stanley) as well as with the Nikos Psacharopoulos-directed production, but there were compliments for Frances McDormand (Stella) and Frank Converse (Mitch).

12 April 1992 [Ethel Barrymore Thea; 137p]. The star-studded revival was not admired by the press but audiences were anxious to see film stars Jessica Lange (Blanche) and Alex Baldwin (Stanley) so the Gregory Mosher-directed production ran seventeen weeks. Also cast: Amy Madigan (Stella), Timothy Carhart (Mitch).

26 April 2005 [Studio 54 Thea; 73p]. Most reviewers castigated the Roundabout Theatre revival, complaining about the paunchy, unappealing Stanley of John C. Reilly, the young, pretty Stella of Natasha Richardson, and the disjointed direction by Edward Hall. Also cast: Amy Ryan (Stella), Chris Bauer (Mitch).

© 2009 McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers

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