The spirit and legacy of playwright Tennessee Williams continues to thrive throughout the Golden Triangle.
The 11th annual Tennessee Williams Tribute Festival and Tour of Victorian Homes begins Tuesday with a performance of Williams’ “The Rose Tattoo” at 7:30 p.m. in the Rent Auditorium at the Mississippi University for Women.
Festival founder and chair Brenda Caradine said upon moving to Columbus, she discovered there was not festival to honor the Columbus native who, she thinks, is America’s greatest playwright.
“No one waxes poetically better than Tennessee Williams,” she said. “No one explained the human condition better.”
An accomplished actress herself, Caradine said she has performed in many of Williams’ plays and was keen on staying to the playwright’s vision for this year’s production.
“We will have the live goat in this play,” she said. “We’re doing it exactly as he wrote it.”
Caradine said she has been impressed with the level of talent and dedication the cast and crew have put in to the show, and praised its leading lady.
“Cherri Golden plays the lead of Serafina Delle Rose,” she said. “The acting she does is absolutely brilliant.”
Directed by Melanie Hintz, “The Rose Tattoo” tells the story of Delle Rose and her children living in an Italian American neighborhood in Louisiana.
Golden, a theatrical staple for the tribute festival, said she has enjoyed working on the play and continuing to develop her Sicilian character.
“It’s been fairly easy to step into the character, but stepping out has been harder,” she said. “The character of Serafina does not say or do anything quietly, and it’s just be such a great, fun thing to do.”
Golden said upon reading the script she found the show to be a hysterical tragicomedy and is pleased with the show’s happy ending, a rarity, Golden said, for the female characters in Williams’ works.
“He just nails his women’s characters so well, and I want people to be sure and see this play because it’s one of the most light-hearted Williams plays we’ve done to date,” she said. “I think he will known as the Shakespeare of America.
Williams, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner for “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” and “A Streetcar Named Desire,” was born in Columbus in 1911.
Caradine said along with the production, the festival week is packed with a variety of entertaining events including: The Moon Lake Party at the Columbus Country Club, featuring two-time Tony Award nominee Alison Fraser accompanied by pianist Allison Leyton-Brown singing “The Tennessee Williams Songbook;” the Street Car Run; the “Stella” Shouting Contest at Holly Hocks Gift Shop; a sermon by Rev. Anne Harris at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church inspired by “The Rose Tattoo;” and the 11th annual Tour of Victorian Homes among many others.
“The Rose Tattoo” is performed Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday of this week at 7:30 p.m. nightly. Tickets are $15 for general admission, $10 for seniors and military members and free to students with valid identification.