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Get an eyeful of the 'Rose Tattoo'

Mississippi playwright Tennessee Williams explored the darker side of failed romance in "Streetcar Named Desire," "The Glass Menagerie" and "Summer and Smoke."

With his erotic fable "The Rose Tattoo," however, he offered audiences a rose-colored valentine.

"The Rose Tattoo" will be presented by the Bay St. Louis Little Theatre today, Saturday and Sunday and again next weekend.

The production is part of the theater's annual celebration of Williams' work, since their building was used as a setting in the film version of Williams' "This Property is Condemned."

"The Rose Tattoo" is set in a 1950s immigrant neighborhood on the Mississippi Coast and concerns the plight of a Sicilian seamstress and widow, Sarafina, who longs for the lost passion she shared with her deceased husband, while suffering the catcalls and insults of neighboring harridans.

When one of the ladies informs her that her late spouse cheated with a supposed friend, Sarafina asks Father De Leo for the truth, and upon rebuff, furiously attacks the befuddled priest. When her daughter Rosa falls for a callow sailor, Jack, Sarafina shouts, "I'm almost as sick of men as I am of women!"

But relief is on the way, in the form of virile, dim-witted truck driver Alvaro, whose first good deed is to corral the goat feasting on Sarafina's tomato plants.

He will also rescue her heart, and their ribald dance, at times more boxing match than minuet, transforms a wistful tale of loss into a comic tour-de-force of redemptive love.

Larry Clark, with support from stage managers Melissa Kelton and Cheryl Grace, directs this large cast.

Laurie Spaschak and Dean Noel's set establishes the ambiance while transporting the audience back to a time and place as eccentric as it was idyllic.

Doug Hadley plays Alvaro, the hot-blooded inamorato, bumbling his way into Sarafina's heart, helping them both come to grips with life's inexplicable losses and improbable opportunities.

Rosa Obregon plays Sarafina with childish innocence, waspish haughtiness and a mature woman's longings.

"The Rose Tattoo" answers the question asked early in the show, "What good is a husband?" by reminding all who have suffered loss that they may yet be redeemed by each other if they are willing to chance love in its earthiest incarnations.