East Carolina University students Jillian Brocki as Stella Kowalski and Austin Crowley as Stanley Kowalski perform in the School of Theatre and Dance production of "A Streetcar Named Desire," Oct. 2-7. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

School of Theatre and Dance presents Pulitzer Prize-winning show

Oct. 1, 2014

By Grace Haskin
ECU News Services

The stage of McGinnis Theatre has been transformed into a grim post-World War II New Orleans for the upcoming production of “A Streetcar Named Desire.”

The East Carolina University School of Theatre and Dance will captivate audiences Oct. 2-7 with the American classic, written by Tennessee Williams in 1947.

The production will be impressive, said ECU theatre professor and director of the show, Gregory Funaro. “If this is not the greatest American play, it’s certainly one of them.”
ECU senior Cate Kessler performs the role of Blanche Dubois in the ECU production.

The theatrical drama hinges upon the arrival of Blanche Dubois, an aging Southern belle played by ECU senior Cate Kessler, at the home of her sister, Stella, and brother-in-law, Stanley.

“Blanche has just lost her house, job and husband, so she goes to live with Stella,” said Kessler. “Stella has been telling Blanche not quite the truth about where she lives, which is kind of a dump.”

Stanley, played by ECU senior Austin Crowley, is an unrefined World War II veteran who Crowley described as “uncouth” and “brutish.”

“Stanley only cares about two things: sex and playing poker with his buddies,” said Crowley. “He treats everything around him with violence and views Blanche as an enemy in the war.”

As the play progresses, Blanche’s darkest secrets are revealed and it becomes apparent that she is on the verge of a nervous breakdown. “I could play this role every night for two years, and I would still discover things about Blanche,” said Kessler. “She is every actress’ dream.”

Cast Members
Director - Gregory Funaro
Blanche Dubois - Cate Kessler
Stanley Kowalski - Austin Crowley
Stella Kowalski - Jillian Brocki
Harold Mitchell - Alan Chandler
Eunice Hubbell - Amy Albritton
Steve Hubbell - Cody Schauble
Negro Woman - Naja Richburg
Mexican Woman - Ann Kram
Young Collector - John Flemming
Pablo Gonzales - Robert DiDomenico Nurse/Matron - Amanda Higgins
Doctor - Gabe Donohue
Understudy, Blanche Dubois - Amanda Higgins
Kessler hopes viewers will look deeper into the show and appreciate its relevance to their own lives. “The themes in this play are timeless: heartbreak, loneliness, being misunderstood and afraid,” she said. “Blanche had her heart broken and she was never the same. I think people will be able to relate to that.”

Funaro praised the cast and crew and said they were “phenomenal” to work with. “I know I’m biased,” he said, “but I’ve seen a lot of college theater, and we have something equivalent to a professional production on our hands.”

“This play is emotionally fulfilling, dramatically interesting and I promise people will be captivated,” said Crowley. “If you’ve never seen a show before, this is the show to see.”

Performances of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play will be held Oct. 2-4 at 8 p.m., Oct. 5 at 2 p.m. and Oct. 6-7 at 8 p.m.

The show is part of the 2014-2015 ECU/Loessin Playhouse season. Upcoming productions include “Kiss Me Kate” and “Dance 2015.”

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit, call 252-328-6829, or go to the McGinnis Theatre Box Office located in the Messick Theatre Arts Center, open weekdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Sisters Stella Kowalski, left, and Blanche Dubois greet each other when Blanche arrives in New Orleans.