Revived on Broadway in 2017 where it received six Tony Award nominations, “The Little Foxes,” Lillian Hellman’s blistering tale of a Southern family’s greed is replayed at Citadel Theatre with all the destructive power that made this drama a classic.
Brilliantly cast with Jeff Award-nominated Saren Nofs as the ruthless Regina Giddens, frustrated by not holding the family’s financial reins, the drama steam rolls to its necessary conclusion leaving audiences saying “whew.”
Regina is not the only family member who suffers under the accepted norm of male inheritance and domination prevalent at the turn of the last century.
It’s hard to picture a better Birdie Hubbard then Alicia Kahn (Cleveland and Idaho Shakespeare Festivals).
Married to Regina’s bullying, brutal brother Oscar Hubbard (Citadel Artistic Director Scott Phelps) her heart-rending glances convincingly portray a victim of spousal abuse. She also pines for her ancestral plantation given up when she married Oscar.
Local theater veteran Tim Walsh convincingly portrays a very ill Horace Giddens who wants nothing to do with his wife and her brothers’ scheme to finance a cotton mill.
Ben Hubbard, a banker and the more milder-tempered brother, is portrayed by Thom Thomas. Ryan Leonard is Oscar and Birdie’s weak and dishonest son, Leo Hubbard.
Caught in this mix is Anna Civik (Piven, Lifeline) as Alexandra Giddens, Regina’s teenage daughter who …( sorry can’t give away the ending).
The cast also includes Elliot Johnson as William Marshall, a Chicago businessman who will arrange for the cotton mill the family wants at a price, Terrie Lynne Hudson as the Giddens housekeeper, Addie, and William Anthony Sebastian Rose II as Cal who also works in the Giddens household.
Costuming is also an important. Well designed by Amanda Vander Byl to make character statements, Birdie wears a delicate gown while Regina is dressed in take-charge apparel.
Eric Luchen’s calm, period set is the perfect backdrop for this melodrama. The only warning to give here is that the space is intimate, therefore audiences will feel the play’s intense action.
Written in 1939, Hellman sets the play in a small Alabama town in 1900. The story is supposedly based on her own family’s discord. Her mother belittled her father and her mother’s banking family didn’t get along well with the Hellmans.
The play’s title has been attributed to the Song of Solomon in the King James Bible that says: “Take us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the fines: for our vines have tender grapes.”
Kristina McCloskey’s insightful direction pulls out every overt and nuanced way Hellman’s foxes trample anything tender in their way. Even though Regina gets what she deserves in the end, some thought should be given to the plight of women who have been left out of a parent’s will because they are females and who have had no opportunity for advancement in the business world.
DETAILS: “The Little Foxes” is at Citadel Theatre, 300 S. Waukegan Rd., Lake Forest, through Oct. 28, 2018. Running time: 2 hrs. 30 min. plus an intermission. For tickets and other information call (847) 735-8554 and visit Citadel Theatre.
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