Sunday, March 27, 2011

True Blood says “Happy Birthday Tennessee Williams”

As featured on The Vault -

The Katselas Theatre Company‘s ongoing monthly INKubator series presented their performance of Happy Birthday Tennessee, yesterday, Saturday, March 26 at the 99 seat, Skylight Theatre which is located in the Los Feliz section of Los Angeles. I attended the event to see three of the True Blood cast members, Deborah Ann Woll, Jim Parrack and Dale Raoul read from the writing of the great 20th century author.

Deborah Ann Woll, Jim Parrack and Dale Raoul

Michael Kearns
I was surprised to learn how familiar the writings are to our culture when I attended this celebration of Tennessee Williams’ 100th birthday. I was actually surprised at how much I already knew and recognized of his work and, how many of the quotes I could place. I also think that Tennessee Williams would have been a fan of the writing on True Blood and glad that three of it’s stars were in this performance. 

The performance started out with Michael Kearns, an award-winning writer-performer, walking onto the stage in the part of the great author himself. He was delightful to listen to as he set up what was to come, as well as speak a bit about the man while providing much of the funnier moments of the afternoon. And, as was timely, he asked the audience to observe a moment of silence for the great Elizabeth Taylor, who passed away just last week and had been in, at least, two Tennessee Williams films, Cat On A Hot Tin Roof and Suddenly Last Summer.

The first half provided a reading of the William’s short story “One Arm“, written in the late 1940′s, but not published until the 1970′s. Six men, read the story aloud to the audience including actors Harry Hart-Browne, Brandon Crowder, Norman Dixon, Brian Jordon-Alvarez, and Mark Salyer who all stood behind Jim Parrack, who was seated in a chair playing the part of “One Arm”. The six men did a very animated and well acted reading, but Jim’s reading of a letter written while his character was waiting to die in prison was, for me, the most compelling.

The second half of the performance was for ladies only. Five women, including Deborah Ann Woll (Jessica Hamby), Dale Raoul (Maxine Fortenberry), Caroline Aaron, Donna Mills (Knots Landing), and Stephanie Zimbalist, daughter of Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., read quotations from many of Tennessee William’s works. All the women read well and in addition to other characters they quoted, Deborah did a good interpretation of Maggie the Cat and Dale was splendid as Blanche DuBois.

After the performance, everyone descended onto the stage, which was at ground level, to congratulate the actors and actresses, and to say “hello.” I was thrilled to once again see Deborah Ann Woll and Jim Parrack, who I have met several times before, getting a hug from both. Deborah introduced me to her parents and Jim mentioned his upcoming film of “Post” which is due to premiere in June. But, for me, the highlight of the event was to finally get to meet Dale Raoul, who plays Hoyt’s mother, Maxine Hortenberry on True Blood.

Its apparent to me me how good an actress Dale is, since I found her to be as nice as she could be, and so different from the character she plays in True Blood. I asked her if Hoyt’s mama was going to be nicer to Jessica in Season 4, and of course, she told me that she just couldn’t say. However, she did say that she, Deborah and Jim are great friends off camera and that was very evident by the affection they showed each other. She introduced me to her husband, Ray Thompson and was kind enough to ask Ray to take a photo of the four of us, as seen below. Thanks Ray!

Deborah Ann Woll, Lynnpd, Jim Parrack and Dale Raoul
I enjoyed the event a lot and was glad of the opportunity to see three True Blood stars perform all at once. Thanks to Michael Kearns for letting me know about the event and being delightful as Tennessee and thanks to Deb, Jim and Dale for just being so great! 

Learn more about the Katselast Theater Company by visiting their site:

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