Peeling back Tennessee Williams' "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" is somewhat like peeling an onion, said Connie Hall-Scott, director of the production playing at the Dalton Little Theatre this weekend and next.
"There are so many layers to his stories," she said. "You peel one layer, and there's something else. Then you peel another layer, and there's something else. It's a brilliant masterpiece."
The Pulitzer Prize-winning play about a dysfunctional family vying for the favor of its dying patriarch is set in the South in the mid-1950s but still resonates today, Hall-Scott said.
"We still have the same issues," she said, ticking off death, grief, greed, martial discord and alcoholism. "It's just set in a different time period."
In the plantation-house setting, the patriarch, Big Daddy, is celebrating his 65th birthday, but the mood is hardly jolly as the principals jockey for position with the honoree as well as among themselves.
"Big Daddy has his own issues," said Hall-Scott. "There are scenarios that work together and against each other."
The director said she is fortunate to have a "superb cast of largely veteran actors and actresses."
Hall-Scott said many of them, when they walked in, were the characters they were to play.
"I was very blessed," she said. "There was a large turnout for auditions, and the hardest thing I've had to do to date was to say no to so many talented people. I'm sad I didn't have more roles to give to those actors."
The brass-bed-dominated set and costumes, Hall-Scott said, add much to the depth of the production.
"We went to great lengths to bring about just the right set," she said. "There is a lot of symbolism with the things we've placed about. You'd think you're in a plantation home."
Grace Kling as Maggie, in the role made famous on the screen in the 1958 film by Elizabeth Taylor, went so far as to acquire a 1950s slip for one scene and had a replica made of Taylor's dress in another scene made for her role, Hall-Scott said.
The DLT's final show of the run is termed "Big Daddy's Birthday Party." For $20, the 3 p.m. party before the 7 p.m. show includes refreshments, private entertainment and a ticket to the show.
What: "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof."
When: 7 p.m. today, 8 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday, 7 p.m. Thursday and May 13, 15.
Where: Dalton Little Theatre, 210 N. Pentz St., Dalton, Ga.
Admission: $10, $5 students ($20 Big Daddy's Birthday Party, May 15).