The role of the overprotective patriarch is common in Hollywood films —Robert De Niro as Jack Byrnes in “Meet the Parents,” John Lithgow as the Rev. Moore in “Footloose.” In television, it was John Ritter as Paul Hennessy in “Eight Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter.” Hennesy’s eight rules warned: use your hands on my daughter and you’ll lose them after; you make her cry, I make you cry; and bring her home late, there’s no next date. But this strict paternal style of discipline and advice often ends in tragedy. Remember “Romeo and Juliet”?
The tyrannical yet loving father figure is also seen in Arthur Miller’s “A View From the Bridge.” Eddie Carbone is the overprotective uncle of Catherine, a young Italian girl popular with the boys and smitten with Rodolpho, a sly lady’s man and the cousin of Eddie’s wife, Beatrice. Rodolpho is visiting from Italy and seeks to gain American citizenship at any cost, even if that means winning the heart and hand of a naive Catherine, who’s looking for love despite her uncle Eddie’s discontent.
Lamar University Theatre and Dance will present Miller’s searing drama of love and revenge Sept. 26-29. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. each night, with 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday, Sept. 29. Tickets are $15 for general admission; $10 for senior citizens, students and LU faculty/staff; and $7 for LU students.
In “A View From the Bridge,” the audience is presented with a slice-of-life look into at a blue-collar Red Hook, Brooklyn family trying to make ends meet during a time of industrial decline following World War II.
Steven Hoffman, 22, of Beaumont, has been a stage actor since he was 11 years old and is director of Lamar’s presentation of the play. He is a senior at Lamar with hopes of attending graduate school to study directing.
Hoffman was born in Elmira, N.Y., less than 300 miles away from the setting of the play, and said he is thrilled to have received the opportunity to direct the Arthur Miller work.
“Lamar asked if I was interested in directing their next show, ‘A View from the Bridge,’ and I immediately said yes knowing I couldn’t turn down a main-stage production of a favorite playwright,” Hoffman said.
The cast is comprised of well-seasoned actors as well as student actors who had to earn their spots, Hoffman said.
“Every single one of them auditioned and earned the parts they have,” Hoffman said. “The student actors have to work diligently, and show no signs of being ‘young’ actors. Joel Grothe, assistant professor at Lamar, has been acting for many years, and as the lead actor, knows just how to take the stage.”
Hoffman said he believes Southeast Texans will be able to relate to the work ethic and emotions of the lead character, Eddie.
“I believe we have the perfect audience in this area,” he said. “Our main source of income and livelihood revolves around the blue-collar working man. Eddie works every day, all day, to provide for his family. Anyone can respect this and honor this, but Arthur Miller offers us more than just that. We see the working man’s thoughts, emotions and desires.”
Male aggression and dominance are key in the play and are displayed through a boxing match between Eddie and Rodolpho, as well as through a pivotal test of strength and knife fight between Eddie and Marco, a cousin of Beatrice who acts as a protector for Rodolpho.
But the play has a touch of feminism, as well. During arguments with Eddie, Beatrice takes up for Catherine, asking him to let his niece mature into a woman and make her own decisions. We see Beatrice, played by Maci Mcfarlin of Nederland, offering advice to young Catherine, played by Natalie Marie Sell of Spring, and encouraging her to break free of her uncle’s overprotective reins.
“Throughout the play, we are led to believe Eddie has a little too much love for Catherine, but how much love is too much?” Hoffman asked. “Many people would argue there is no such thing as too much love.”
“A View From the Bridge” was nominated for two Tony awards in 1983 and 2010 and won a Tony for Best Revival of a Play in 1998. It also won two Drama Desk Awards for Outstanding Revival of a Play in 1998 and 2010.
The play will be presented in the Lamar University Theatre at 4400 S. Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway on the Lamar campus.
Call (409) 880-2250 for reservations and additional information, or visit lamar. edu/theatre.