The Night of the Iguana at RVP--A Night To Remember

Eric Burke as Shannon and Kristine Ann Lowry as Hannah relax on the exotic set of the Ross Valley Players presentation of The Night of the Iguana

            Upon entering the theatre at Ross Valley Players, an impressive set by Malcolm Rodgers greets us of La Costa Verde Hotel in Puerto Barrio on the West Coast of Mexico in 1940.  The Ross Valley Players are celebrating Tennessee Williams' 100th birthday with its own spin on the popular play and movie.
            In the exotic world of the Mexican coastal jungle, Williams has given us an equally exotic collection of characters in search of redemption. Shannon (Eric Burke) had been an Episcopalian clergyman but has fallen from the grace of the church and has been employed as a tour guide by a second rate Mexican travel agency.
            Shannon abandons a bus full of 20 American Baptist women and seeks refuge in a cheap hotel near the coast. The hotel is run by Maxine (Cat Bish), a fading recent widow who still holds large appetites for a man in her life.   New arrivals there are Hannah (Kristine Ann Lowry), a younger artist who tries to make a living selling her paintings and Nonno (Wood Lockhart), her grandfather who is also a poet.  Tied to a post in the yard is a captured iguana--like the others, seemingly at the end of his rope. Williams mixes these characters into a steamy, passionate and dramatic search for redemption. This metaphor is intensified when Shannon tears at his golden cross on his neck, lacerating himself as if to free himself from its constraints. 
            Sensitively directed by Chris Cassell, this production has outstanding performances by Eric Burke as Lawrence Shannon, Kristine Ann Lowry as Hannah Jelkes and Wood Lockhart as Nonno.  They were ably supported by Cat Bish as Maxine, Sandi Rubay as Miss Fellowes, the leader of the Baptist women tourists and Kushi Beauchamp as Charlotte, a young girl who has a crush on Shannon. 
            Special mention should be made of Billie Cox's sound design and the lighting design by Ellen Brooks of the incoming storm.  Michael A. Berg deserves a lot of credit for his outstanding costume design. This was truly a night to remember!
            The Night of the Iguana runs May 17-June 17 at Ross Valley Players' Barn Theatre at Marin Art and Garden Center, 30 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Ross. Performances are held Thursday at 7:30 p.m.; Friday-Saturday at 8 p.m. and 2 p.m. Sunday.  For reservations, call 415-456-9555, extension 1 or go online at
            Coming up next at Ross Valley Players will be Greater Tuna by Jaston Williams, Joe Sears and Ed Howard. This production will be directed by Lynn Dunn and runs July 13-August 12, 2012.  

Flora Lynn Isaacson