McGillis Takes on Little Foxes

Newly out actress Kelly McGillis heads a strong cast in the Pasadena Playhouse's excellent production of the Lillian Hellman classic The Little Foxes .

BY Trudy Ring

June 03 2009 12:00 AM ET

The Little Foxes

is a play with a lot to say -- about rapacious business
practices, exploitation of the poor, and gender politics -- and
70 years after its Broadway bow, it's still delivering its
message effectively.

Newly out actress Kelly
McGillis heads a strong cast in the Pasadena Playhouse's
excellent production of the Lillian Hellman classic, directed
by Dámaso Rodriguez. In the program notes, Rodriguez
comments that
The Little Foxes

"shockingly reflects our times," and the action onstage
proves him right. With their greed and treachery, Hellman's
Gilded Age little foxes would likely fit right in with the big,
bad wolves at some of today's too-large-to-fail companies.

The play is set in 1900
in a small Southern town, where brothers Ben and Oscar Hubbard
are successful merchants. However, they and their sister,
Regina, envision much greater riches if they partner with a
Chicago firm to build a cotton mill in their town, bringing
"the mill to the cotton." The one obstacle to their plan is
Regina's absent and estranged husband, banker Horace Giddens,
who has not agreed to put up the couple's share of the
investment. When Regina sends their daughter, Alexandra, to
bring the ailing Horace home from Johns Hopkins Hospital in
Baltimore, it's part of a scheme of deceit, backstabbing, and
worse as Ben, Oscar, and Regina each try to turn the deal to
their advantage.

The siblings are
ruthless not only toward each other; Hellman lets us know that
Ben and Oscar have cheated almost everyone they've done
business with. What's more, they're committed to delivering a
docile, underpaid mill workforce, assuring their Chicago
partner there will be no strikes and low wages -- $3 a week
compared to $8 at Northern mills, less if they play off black
and white workers against each other.

Tags: Theater

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