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 02 2009 11:00 PM ET


Regina recognizes her
brothers for what they are but has no problem with their
unethical ways; she's tired of men holding all the power and
the purse strings, and she figures she can best them at their
own game and amass enough wealth to leave the genteel Horace,
whom she disdains as weak, and gain a place in the high society
of Chicago.

As Regina, McGillis
takes on a role associated with two icons -- Tallulah Bankhead,
who originated it on Broadway in 1939, and Bette Davis, who
starred in the 1941 film adaptation -- and makes it her own,
quite well. She conveys both Regina's charm and her cruelty;
the character is unsympathetic, but her frustration is
understandable, and she's recognizably human even at her most
villainous. McGillis is a powerfully charismatic performer, and
she's also stunningly beautiful in the period costumes designed
by Mary Vogt. (Besides Vogt's costumes, also meriting special
mention is Gary Wissman's set, portraying the luxury of the
Giddens household but hinting at the underlying decay.)

The cast's other big
name, Julia Duffy, is effective and affecting as Birdie,
Oscar's ill-treated wife, a gentle woman trapped in a loveless
marriage, pining for her family's once-grand plantation, and
comforting herself by drinking on the sly. It's a character and
performance far removed from Duffy's most famous role, the
vain, self-centered heiress-maid Stephanie Vanderkellen of


Indeed, there isn't a
bad performance among the cast, which features Steve Vinovich
as domineering bachelor brother Ben; Marc Singer, known for
many TV roles, as the toadyish Oscar; Geoff Pierson, seen
on-screen last year in

, as Horace, a decent man who regrets some things he's done;
Rachel Sondag as the seemingly naive Alexandra; Shawn Lee as
Oscar and Birdie's worthless son, Leo; Tom Schmid as Chicago
businessman William Marshall; and Yvette Cason and Cleavant
Derricks as Giddens family servants Addie and Cal,

Tags: Theater