Richard Hamburger

Raising the ‘Roof’
One star says meaty roles help actors build endurance

By Mark Lowry / Star-Telegram

Lorca Simons, daughter of Hip Pocket Theatre’s Johnny and Diane Simons, has racked up some impressive stage credits around the country, including playing opposite the legendary Uta Hagen in the off-Broadway show Collected Stories.

She’s finding new challenges, though, in the tough, lengthy role of Maggie the Cat in Dallas Theater Center’s production of Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

“It’s a newfound kind of courage, of being able to sustain something this big,” she says. “It gives you a sort of stamina -- it’s like an Olympic sport. I want to keep doing projects with this kind of weight. I love playing these women who are on a journey. They’re looking for something.”

Maggie’s not the only character who’s searching in this 1955 study of lies in a crumbling Southern society. There’s also her alcoholic, inattentive husband, Brick (played by Rick Stear, a pal of Simons’ from the North Carolina School of the Arts), who is depressed over the suicide of his football bud Skipper; and the family patriarch, “Big Daddy” Pollitt, who has cancer and knows everyone in the family is looking for their share of his wealth.

“[Williams] allows his characters to have enormous contradictions,” says this show’s Big Daddy, L.A.-based actor Dakin Matthews, who has a recurring TV role as Bree and Andrew’s priest on Desperate Housewives. “I think a lesser playwright would try to solve them, but he lets them hang out there in all their glorious contradictory nature.”

Cat is directed by Richard Hamburger, DTC’s soon-to-depart artistic director, who began his tenure in 1992 with another Williams masterwork, A Streetcar Named Desire. Hamburger is known for his big-picture -- and sometimes radical -- interpretations of the classics.

But he’s also “a real actor’s director,” Simons says. “He’s very conscientious about giving you space to develop.”

That’s important in a play in which every character needs that space but can’t connect with the others.

“They’re all coming toward each other, and they keep missing each other,” Simons says.

The cast also features Broadway’s Laurie Kennedy (Angels in America, Man and Superman) as Big Mama and Stage West’s Jerry Russell as Dr. Baugh. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays-Thursdays and Oct. 15 and 22; 8 p.m. Fridays; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays; and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sundays.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Previews through Sunday, opens Tuesday and runs through Nov. 5

© Richard Hamburger, Theater Director      Site design and maintenance by Amy Lacy.