Comments and Reviews
Eagle Rock High's production of
A Streetcar Named Desire

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December 15, 2005
Review - "A Streetcar Named Desire" by Carolyn Beaty

Close your eyes and picture a set designed by Warner Brothers, glittering costumes, precise hair and makeup, and hours of preparation including voice practice for the perfect New Orleans accent. Sound like a professional production of "A Streetcar Named Desire?" Not quite, but Eagle Rock's play production did a fantastic job of making it look professional. With Mr. Copley's expert and experienced guidance and the help of several professionals, "A Streetcar Named Desire" was performed with talent and tenacity.

The story begins when Blanche DuBois (Violet Ruiz), a southern belle and aristocrat-at-heart, travels from Laurel, Mississippi to New Orleans, Louisiana to live with her sister, Stella Kowalski (Melissa Chan) and brother-in-law, Stanley Kowalski (Siddhartha Calacuayo). Blanche has lost the family's old plantation home and what is left of her money and seeks refuge with the last family tie she has.

While in New Orleans, Blanche meets Mitch (Carlo Estella) and begins a romance with him. Unfortunately, Stanley concocts a plan to smear the reputation of the mildly unstable, but ultimately likeable Blanche. His plan succeeds, exposing Blanche's sordid past of promiscuity and an ex-husband who committed suicide, and Mitch turns against her. In the climactic closing scene of the production, Blanche is taken to an insane asylum amid utter mayhem in the Kowalski house.

Violet Ruiz delivered an emotional and heart-rending performance as Blanche. Her highbrow portrayal and emphatic gestures completed and gave depth to an already complex character. Not to be overshadowed by Miss Blanche Dubois, both Calacuayo and Chan gave fantastic performances as Stanley and Stella. Their onstage chemistry was incredible and Calavuayo's characterization of Stanley was reminiscent of Marlon Brando's portrayal in the 1951 movie adaptation. Carlo Estella gave a shining performance as a multi-faceted character that starts out meek and mild, but finishes passionately and violently. The authentic accents, though occasionally garbled, served to enhance the performances of these fine actors and actresses.

The supporting cast and musicians are not to be forgotten. Their performances gave the show a finished quality that tied together the raw emotion felt from the main characters. Elan Sadeh (bass), Ian Turner (piano), and Katie Ferrara (vocals) give the performance a feel of authenticity and style, while the dancers provide an intriguing aspect of the performance during the set changes.

After the show, the cast members took their final bows and wandered out of the backstage area to greet adoring fans. Noticing the expressions on their faces, it was obvious that all participants in the show were emotionally and physically drained because each and every one put their heart and soul into the production. The cumulative effort of hours of work, from set design to make-up to costuming to rehearsing, was displayed in a brilliant performance. A person sitting behind me commented afterward that this was the best play they had ever seen at Eagle Rock High, and this reviewer would tend to agree. The last line of the play perfectly sums up the quality performance: "This game is seven-card stud."


Hi Russell:
Congratulations again on the show. Monique and I had to leave before we could accost you-- with praise after the show. You looked pretty busy, anyhow. It was such fun to watch those kids come alive, some for the first time, on stage. And I suspect it might have been a moment where it all felt like it came together for you, with your lovely wife and child at your side, your students around you, and a show well done.
But did I read correctly -- you're doing the Scottish play next? brrrrrr.....! You're a brave man, Mr. C. :-D Producer


Hello Mr. Copley:
This is Emmanuel Sadorra, the former ERHS student who promoted the Friars Foundation screewriting competition last week.
I attended the Saturday night showing of "A Streetcar Named Desire" and was absolutely blown away. Melissa Chan was especially impressive! Fantastic show, indeed.
Thanks for showing interest in the screenwriting competition. I hope you encourage your students to enter. It's really a wonderful oppurtunity!
Please keep me posted on your future projects. If you ever need a gopher or assistant, let me know!
Thanks again and great job on the play!


Hey Russ:
Sorry for not sticking around to see you and the fam after the play - it looked like it would be hard to get to you! :-)
The play was FABULOUS! What you do with high school productions is amazing. The setting, the scene changes, the feel of the whole experience. What an amazing job you did... and those students! How fantastic are they?!
Everyone was great.... but Stella... she was incredible.
Thank you so much for inviting us! You really are such a great teacher. I miss working with you.


Independent producer
Dear Russell:
Thanks again for inviting Alvaro and I to your production of A Streetcar Named Desire. The production was a magnificent achievement. The performances of your leading actors were finely crafted with much detail paid to dialect, body language and rich subtext ­ all of which accented the brilliant writing of Mr. Williams. What impressed me highly was the ensemble work that supported the telling of the story ­ as Alvaro and I sat near the front, we could hear all of the Oad libsą ­ dialogue that lent character and life to the story.
               We could see up close the joy in the dance ensemble and the careful crafting of the town characters ­ from the woman who sold roses, to the fighting lovers.
In addition to the actors, your music ensemble and singer lent a surprisingly rich underbelly to the story and setting in New Orleans. The set was finely crafted and was utilized to itąs best by your staging. The costumes and hairstyles added a historical element and really transformed the audience back in time. The stage fight too, was extremely well executed by your fine young actors.
      As Managing Director of a multicultural theatre company here in Los Angeles, it was a pleasure to see such commitment from your talented performers and
stage crew ­ the production was professional in every aspect ­ from the design, to the performances, to the stage crew behind the scenes. I certainly look forward to working with you and the Eagle Rock High School Stage in the future and hope to be able to offer your students work in a
professional local theatre as they leave school and are looking for jobs in the arts.
Thanks again and please congratulate cast and crew on a job well done. Break a leg during your final shows!!!
Sam Robinson
Managing Director
Will & Company


Dear Russell:
 it was one of the best plays I've EVER seen, including professional level performances! I know that sounds like hyperbole but I'm not exaggerating. Russ deserves huge kudos for the level that he brought these kids to. the
acting of the leads was absolutely phenomenal for high school. I think the girl who played blanche surpassed the movie performance! for me anyway. and I loved that movie. Michael was equally astounded and in fact asked me to have her sign our program because we're both so sure that she will become a famous actress. the most incredible thing we found out is that this was her first acting role ever! what a gifted child! the kids that played Stanley and Stella were equally as great. I guess Blanche stood out because her role is so complex and her dialogue is very extensive. also the set was phenomenal - very professional - a level of quality that the acting surely lived up to. both Michael and I wanted to drag people there to see this, to show them what high school kids are capable of (with Russ's talented, dedicated mentorship). please pass the word if you can.
With this lengthy praise, I sure hope you enjoy it as much as we did. really looking forward to Tuesday too. miss you.
xxx, : - )