It is not often that one can see Tennessee Williams’ “The Rose Tattoo”, his Tony Award classical love story, but leave it to Shattered Globe Theatre company to take the risk. They have not only taken on this rather large cast of characters in a smaller theater, but have cast it so solidly that one feels that they have gone back in time to the early 1950’s in a small village along the Gulf Coast between New Orleans and Mobile. Under the sterling direction of Greg Vinkler (many of you may recognize his name from all the reviews of productions at Chicago Shakespeare where he has appeared in lots of productions) on a divine set by Sarah Ross, who truly shows that one can take a “black box” 99 seat theater and take the viewers to another place and time. Technical perfection is very apparent with period costumes by Sarah Jo White, lighting(Charles Cooper) , original music and sound (Christopher Kriz) and amazing props (Vivian Knouse). The fight choreography was designed by Christina Gorman. Solid tech work allows the audience to concentrate on the Comedy/Drams that Williams wrote.
This is a special work for Williams in that it is a blend of comedy, emotional depth and poetry. The characters are Italian-Americans and our main character, Serafina Delle Rose (played to perfection by Eileen Niccola, who despite being earthy, emanates a certain sex appeal), a wife and mother, is making dresses for all the neighbor girls as graduation looms close. Her lovely daughter Rosa (deftly handled by Daniela Colucci) is one of those graduates and her mother, a very religious catholic, is over protective in every way, controlling her life. Her husband, who we never meet, is a truck driver of fruit, and as it turns out, a smuggler as well. We also find out that her husband has been having relations with another woman (or maybe more). “The Rose Tattoo” is a symbol in this story as her husband has this tattoo on his chest and as the story progresses, we find out more on this topic. Her husband is killed in a crash and although as a catholic, cremation is unacceptable, Serafina decides to do this and keep her “husband” in the living rook which is also her work area as a seamstress.
Serafina’s life has become topsy-turvy with the loss of her one true love and her miscarriage of the son she had hoped would be the blessing to their bliss. As the story unfolds a truck driver pulls into town and finds himself at her door. In many ways, he reminds her of the man who is in the urn in front of her religious statue and Mangiacavallo (a striking performance by Nic Grelli) and Serafina develop a relationship that allows each of them to find the parts of their lives that are missing. Daughter, Rosa also meets a man, a sailor (Drew Shad) who is older and keeps his promise to Serafina to not harm her daughter.
The story is very earthy as are the characters. Serafina has deep problems and thoughts but thanks to the stranger, finds that her life is not what she had thought. Serafina, at the end of the story can go forward with her life and the neighbors who had earlier taunted and teased her see that she is someone who they can empathize with. As I said earlier, the reason many companies avoid doing this play is the size of the cast. Shattered Globe took on this production knowing that the cast would fill the smaller theater at Theater Wit and thanks to the solid cast of players, Megan Skord, Jess Thigpen, Rachel Sledd, Noah Simon, young Benedict Santos Schwegel, Debra Rodkin, Doug McDade, Kelsey Melvin, Daria Harper, Christina Gorman and Gina D’Ercoli, we get to see the birth of love and new life and the deliverance from the past.
Thursdays 8 p.m.
Fridays 8 p.m.
Saturdays 8 p.m.
Sundays 3 p.m.
Running time is approx 2 hours and 20 minutes with an intermission.
Tickets are $33 open seating with the following specials: “under 30” $20.00
on Thursdays, Industry tix $15. Tickets are available at the box office, by phone at 773-975-8150 or online at www.theaterwit.org
Saturday, February 7th , there will be a tour and audio-described performance with a special ticket at $15
After every Sunday performance there will be an open discussion with members of the company exploring some of what the play is all about and the issues raised in the story.
AS A NOTE: “The Rose Tattoo” played in Chicago, Pre Broadway 70 years ago (1950) and premiered on Broadway in 1951 garnering four Tony Awards, including best play!
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-up and click at “The Rose Tatoo”