Set in Alabama in 1900, The Little Foxes follows Regina Giddens and her ruthless clan, including her sister-in-law Birdie, as they clash in often brutal ways in an effort to strike the deal of their lives. Far from a sentimental look at a bygone era, the play has a surprisingly timely resonance with important issues facing our country today.
In a first for Manhattan Theatre Club, Laura Linney and Cynthia Nixon will alternate between the roles of Regina and Birdie, both members of a strong-willed, aristocratic Southern family. The actresses will play the characters in repertory, appearing opposite each other at each performance
The director Daniel Sullivan’s succulent new Broadway revival of the play, a Manhattan Theatre Club production at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, cannot erase its tints of both moralizing and melodrama. But it proves once again that Hellman’s 1939 drama is also redoubtably enduring entertainment, a theatrically effective indictment of human greed and its destructive power.
Daniel Sullivan directs Hellman’s Alabama tale with a crisp vigor that smooths over its melodramatic bumps. The prime mover is Regina, who plots with brothers Ben and Oscar (malevolently perfect Michael McKean and Darren Goldstein) to close a deal on a cotton mill in order to make them all filthy rich. The cast is uniformly strong, and outstanding work comes from the leading ladies. Linney is fire and ice: regal yet ready to spit venom. And Nixon, in the configuration I saw, is delicately touching as the meek, damaged Birdie
Under Daniel Sullivan’s sure-handed direction, the show satisfies no matter who’s playing Regina — more or less. The production's good-looking — costumes, lighting and the set, which underscores this prickly family. Notice there’s no comfy couch that invites getting close, just chairs and a chaise. Supporting actors more than ably step up, including Richard Thomas as Regina’s ill husband, Michael McKean and Darren Goldstein as her greedy brothers, Francesca Carpanini as her dutiful daughter, and Michael Benz as her creepy nephew.