Madonna just turned down the chance to star next summer in a London production of Tennessee Williams’ 1947 play “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.” Playing Maggie, the role that won Elizabeth Taylor an Oscar nomination in the 1958 film version, would have been a major acting stretch for the Material Mama: Not only is Maggie a dedicated wife (while Madonna remains adamantly single), but her bitter, alcoholic ex-athlete husband refuses to sleep with her. (What? Madonna not calling the sexual shots? It would have taken a mighty Method to get her through that part of the role.)
Madonna’s ambitions as a thespian made us think that other classic plays might be rejuvenated by the unexpected casting of female singers. Consider the following:
Fiona Apple as Peter Pan Kids today are more cynical than in Mary Martin’s day and not as quick to accept a flying pixie. But with a scowling Apple in green tights, and Wendy’s bedroom given the Calvin Klein-ish basement porn look of her video “Criminal,” the thought of “not growing up” will tantalize youths and certain older gentlemen at the same time.
Joan Osborne as Blanche Dubois in “A Streetcar Named Desire” Who better to depend on the kindness of strangers than someone who believes that God could, in fact, be a stranger on the bus?
Courtney Love as Helen Keller in “The Miracle Worker” Love certainly has the time-bomb personality to capture the wild, food-tossing, pre-linguistic Helen Keller. The only stumbling block: The habitually profane Love may be unable to remain mute, bellowing to her castmates: “I can’t understand you, I’m #$!@! blind and deaf, you #&@! idiots!” — Josh Wolk