Remember when Basic Instinct came out, and it was a pretty good movie but all anyone talked about was Sharon Stone's interrogation scene? Well, the same thing's about to happen to Broadway's upcoming revival of Tennessee Williams's Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. On March 7, every reviewer in town is going to lead with the tour de force of tumescence that is James Earl Jones. Yeah, that's right. Say it again in a deep, harrowing voice so it resonates and scares all the children away. JAMES EARL JONES. The most startling revelation at a recent preview of Debbie Allen's all-black production of Cat is that James Earl loves it when you call him Big Poppa, or rather, Big Daddy, because Jones's sexually charged inhabiting of the surly southern patriarch allows for no mistake: The former Lord Vader still has a lot of light left in his saber.
Yeah, we hadn't given the subject much thought either, but it's true: Mr. Verizon is still dialed in. When he's not cursing, he's grabbing his crotch; when he's not grabbing his crotch, he's grabbing one of the other ladies onstage (usually Brick's wife, Maggie); when he's not grabbing someone, he's pelvic-thrusting his way into your formerly untainted subconscious. Jones mixes leering sexual menace with prideful bombast, as if Nicholson in The Shining met Mufasa in The Lion King. It's the kind of performance that reminds audiences who James Earl used to be. It might make you a little uncomfortable to think about, but it's worth it to follow James to the Darrrrrk Siiiide. —Patrice Evans