The Avengers actress, who won a Tony Award for her Broadway debut in Arthur Miller’s View From the Bridge, returns to the stage in a new production of Tennessee Williams’ classic play Cat On A Hot Tin Roof.
She tackles the role of Maggie ‘the Cat’, made famous by Dame Elizabeth Taylor in the 1958 movie adaptation, and a host of famous faces turned out to see her perform at the play’s opening night on Thursday (17Jan13).
James Bond star Daniel Craig and his wife Rachel Weisz were in the audience at Manhattan’s Richard Rodgers Theatre, along with pop star Nick Jonas and actor Victor Garber, and Johansson managed to win over even the most notoriously tough critics with her performance.
Ben Brantley of the New York Times writes, “Ms. Johansson, like Maggie, seems to possess a confidence that can turn raw nerves into raw power… She is perhaps too forthright to be truly feline… but Ms. Johansson confirms her promise as a stage actress of imposing presence and adventurous intelligence. Quibble all you want about the particulars of her performance. She obviously has a strong sense of what she wants to do here and the convictions to follow it through.”
Mark Kennedy of Associated Press adds, “Scarlett Johansson turns in a nifty turn as Maggie, finding humor and barely hidden desperation in her role as frustrated wife and mother-to-be. She’s less overtly sexy than other actresses who have played the ironic role, making her Maggie more cerebral, angry and proud.”
Elisabeth Vincentelli of the New York Post compared the 28-year-old actress to “a young Kathleen Turner”, writing, “Johansson didn’t pick the easiest vehicle for her second Broadway appearance… While her performance often lacks nuance and starts off too shouty, the star eventually gains in confidence. Spitting out Williams’ florid lines in a low-throated growl reminiscent of the young Kathleen Turner (herself a Broadway ‘Cat’ in 1990), Johansson successfully brings to the fore Maggie’s rough edges.”
Brendan Lemon of the Financial Times also compares Johansson to husky-voiced Turner, who won a Tony Award nomination for the same role in 1990. He writes, “Johansson delivers a Maggie with a whisky voice. The huskiness comes as a surprise in one so young, and cues us that her voice may be headed the way of Kathleen Turner’s.”