Skip to Content

Support MinnPost

This content is made possible in part by the generous sponsorship support of The University of Minnesota.

It takes time, but 'Streetcar' smolders

Ricardo Antonio Chavira as Stanley Kowalski and Gretchen Egolf as Blanche DuBois in Tennessee Williams' "A Streetcar Named Desire."
Photo by T. Charles Erickson
Ricardo Antonio Chavira as Stanley Kowalski and Gretchen Egolf as Blanche DuBois in Tennessee Williams' "A Streetcar Named Desire."

"A Streetcar Named Desire" is about passion as overheated as the New Orleans summer in which it is set. The Guthrie Theater's new production takes some time to find that heat, but when it comes it burns across the stage and heats the audience as well, despite the chilly summer air conditioning.

Tennessee Williams' landmark play about attraction, passion and madness has lost little of its punch, though the once taboo subjects of mental illness, rape and homosexuality are now common topics.

What makes Williams' work endure is the depth he gives each of the main characters. These aren't hastily sketched creations. Instead, we have fully formed, engaging characters who more than fill the three-hour running time of the show.

At the center of the storm is Stacia Rice as Stella. The character is trapped between obligations and memories of her family and the new life she has carved out with her husband. Rice shows us the tears in her character as she tries to satisfy both sides, but eventually makes a heart-wrenching choice.

"Desperate Housewives" actor Ricardo Antonio Chavira smolders with plenty of intensity and takes pains to show us the different sides of Stanley, the earthy soul who has captured Stella's heart. Gretchen Egolf as Blanche builds up to the full character, as small ticks in the first part of the show magnify and take on depth as we learn her full story. Though a smaller role, Brian Keane makes good work as Blanche's love interest, Mitch.

If there's a fault here, it's that the show takes a long time building up the heat of the city. Early on, John Miller-Stephany's direction feels almost reserved. It takes Chavira's Stanley to finally heat up the action with his iconic cries of "Stella." From there, the show stays hot until the end.

"A Streetcar Named Desire" runs through Aug. 29 on the Wurtele Thrust Stage, the Guthrie Theater, 818 South 2nd Street. Tickets are $24 to $60. For more information, call 612-377-2224 or visit online.

Get MinnPost's top stories in your inbox