Review, Theatre

A Streetcar Named Desire at Vintage Theatre

A review by Lisa Bornstein

So often, in “A Streetcar Named Desire,” poor Stella becomes the mousy second banana, navigating the histrionics between Blanche and Stanley. But with Vintage Theatre’s production of the Tennessee Williams drama, actress Kelly Uhlenhopp is a constantly smoking ember. It is almost impossible to look away from her when she is onstage.

Under the leadership of director Craig A. Bond, Uhlenhopp is the play’s steady anchor, but a hot one. With Kurt Brighton as Stanley, she conveys with minimal seen effort the lust that pins down their marriage and keeps her coming back to their seedy French Quarter apartment and his frequent rages. The two have a palpable chemistry that underpins the events to come.

L to r:  Kurt Brighton, Kelly Uhlenhopp and Haley Johnson

L to r: Kurt Brighton, Kelly Uhlenhopp and Haley Johnson

Her home has been less upset by Stanley than the arrival of her sister, Blanche, the graceful, luscious and decidedly faded Southern Belle. There are beautiful scenes between Stella and Haley Johnson’s Blanche, subtly conveying their history and the patterns of their relationship. Stella’s pain comes not from Blanche’s sharp words, but from the knowledge that she will choose her husband over her sister.

Johnson’s Blanche enters with a delicate, well-bred accent and well-played internal calculations playing across her face as she arrives in the grave disappointment of Stella and Stanley’s tiny apartment (even tinier in Vintage’s smaller theater). Her airs and graces are undermined by worrying hands. She is fraught and anxious, but still grounded in reality at the beginning.

Those elements all build a engrossing, well-balanced first act, which tips out of balance in the second half of the play, as Blanche becomes increasingly melodramatic. The tiny space can’t hold such a large performance at that point, and “Streetcar” teeters perilously close to “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?”

Throughout the play, Bond hits terrific comic beats with his entire cast, allowing for a balance between laughter and pathos. As Blanche’s suitor, Mitch, Patrick Collins avoids the pitfalls of the milquetoast and shows a sweet yet solid man who wants to give to someone.

Kelly Uhlenhopp and Kurt Brighton

Kelly Uhlenhopp and Kurt Brighton

Brighton brings charisma and manly swagger to the role of Stanley, a creature with little self-control but great regret and pride. His violence is scary, but he also displays the qualities that surely drew Stella in the first place.

It’s surprising that Vintage chose to re-stage this production in such a tiny space. Its company of French Quarter denizens find themselves squeezing past one another in the street scene behind the apartment. They, as well as the audience, need a little room to breathe.

Vintage Theatre presents

“A Streetcar Named Desire”

The sultry Tennessee Williams story of sensuality and madness.

July 18 – Sept. 7
Fri/Sat at 7:30 p.m.; Sun at 2:30 p.m. 
$26 ($21 advance); Groups of 6+ $18
303-856-7830 or online at

Vintage Theatre, 1468 Dayton St., Aurora 80010

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