Big Daddy’s A Big Fat Letch!

The first all-black version of Tennessee Williams‘s “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” has just begun previews on Broadway. It stars Terrence Howard, Phylicia Rashad, Anika Noni Rose, and James Earl Jones. One of New York magazine’s theater spies, Patrice Evans, was there the other night, and here’s her report about the highly sexed way that Jones interprets the role of Big Daddy: “Remember when ‘Basic Instinct’ came out, and it was a pretty good movie but all anyone talked about was Sharon Stone‘s interrogation scene? Well, the same thing’s about to happen to…’Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.’ On March 7, every reviewer in town is going to lead with the tour de force of tumescence that is James Earl Jones. Yeah, that’s right. Say it again in a deep, harrowing voice so it resonates and scares all the children away. JAMES EARL JONES. The most startling revelation at a recent preview of Debbie Allen‘s all-black production of ‘Cat’ is that James Earl loves it when you call him Big Poppa, or rather, Big Daddy, because Jones’s sexually charged inhabiting of the surly southern patriarch allows for no mistake: The former Lord Vader still has a lot of light left in his saber.

“Yeah, we hadn’t given the subject much thought either, but it’s true: Mr. Verizon is still dialed in. When he’s not cursing, he’s grabbing his crotch; when he’s not grabbing his crotch, he’s grabbing one of the other ladies onstage (usually Brick’s wife, Maggie); when he’s not grabbing someone, he’s pelvic-thrusting his way into your formerly untainted subconscious. Jones mixes leering sexual menace with prideful bombast, as if Jack Nicholson in ‘The Shining’ met Mufasa in ‘The Lion King.’ It’s the kind of performance that reminds audiences who James Earl used to be. It might make you a little uncomfortable to think about, but it’s worth it to follow James to the Darrrrrk Siiiide.”

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