Theatre Non-Conforming Greets the Theater World
with Quality Mounting of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
Troy Cooper, the director of this play and the face of Theatre Non-Conforming describes their mission in the program. “Theatre Non-Conforming will us performing arts to not speak for, but to speak with marginalized groups to culturally foster a social environment of tolerance, acceptance and enlightened understanding.” In their inaugural production, Cooper chose the American classic, Tennessee Williams’s Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. By doing so, he made a statement to the Montgomery County theater community that his group will never back away from a theatrical challenge. If this production is any indication, Montgomery County is in for a treat.
Cooper relies on the age-old secret of all good directors: he cast it well. The ensemble is uniformly excellent. As Maggie, the cat, Ariana Ballerini doesn’t try to imitate Elizabeth Taylor, but rather makes Maggie fit her. She is very strong in her first act monologues that are important both to develop character and exposition. As Brick, Thomas Mitchell captures the sullenness of the character. Rick Serpico plays the iconic Big Daddy with appropriate bravado and hurt.
Philadelphia veteran, Peggy Smith is spot on as Big Mama. She is nuanced with delusion and hurt and gives what could become a one-dimensional character some interesting depth. JaQuinley Kerr and Timothy Roscoe embrace the thankless roles of Mae and Cooper with enthusiasm. They give strong contrasting characters to Brick and Maggie. Darryl Bell (Dr. Baugh) and Mark Cook (Rev. Tooker) round out the cast.
Troy Cooper designed his own set. It was incredibly effective, the colors and textures clearly read the time and place. It was complemented nicely by Seana Benz’s Costume Designer and Jim Gaffney’s Lighting Design. With all this in place, Troy Cooper’s direction may have been the star. His pacing was so effective. It is a long play by modern standards, but no scene ever seemed to go on too long.
Their current home is Centre Theater in Norristown. This show has closed, but they are presenting 9 to 5: The Musical in September. You should plan to try them out because I believe they will offer a great production. Their professionalism extended as well to the house staff. They are a welcome addition to professional theater and should be supported. For further information go www.theatrenon.com.