10 “Stellas” In Under 90 Seconds
BAY ST. LOUIS -- How many ways can you say a six-letter word? According to the contestants in Saturday's Stella Yelling Contest in Bay St. Louis' Old Town, the answer is many.
Men and women both young and young at voice found their inner Stanley Kowalski as they recreated Marlon Brando's iconic scene in Elia Kazan's screen adaptation of the Tennessee Williams' play "A Streetcar Named Desire." The competition was held on the grounds of the Bay St. Louis Little Theatre, which was used in the 1965 film "This Property Is Condemned," which was also written by Williams, who was born in Columbus, Miss.
Saturday would have been Williams' 105th birthday. The contest is the signature event of the Stella Blues and BBQ Festival.
"This is the eighth year that we have done this," said John Anderson, one of the organizers of the competition. "We've moved it around and this year we're doing at the Little Theatre, which is a great way to celebrate Tennessee Williams' birthday."
The contest was simple: Contestants were called in a randomly drawn manner, they faced the balcony of the theater and yelled their best "Stella!" Three winners were graded by a panel of eight judges, including Bay St, Louis Mayor Les Fillingame
"I was looking for someone with some passion," said judge Martha Whitney Butler. "Brando's scene was so passionate and there was so much going on and so many themes."
The first Stella shouting contest was held in New Orleans, the setting of Williams' play.
Jay Kelton, 9, a student at North Bay Elementary School, was the youngest male contestant.
He said is very familiar with the Williams' works.
He also is playing Bruno in 'The Rose Tattoo,' another Williams' play, at the theater.
The Brando impressions ran the gamut from the humorous to the bizarre, but it was a traditional delivery that helped Rut Jongbloets win the prize of $150 and a silver trophy presented by members of the Raw Oyster Marching Club, as well as a year's worth of bragging rights.
Jongbloets even went the extra mile and ripped his shirt from his body ala Brando's Stanley Kowalski.
"I was opposed to nudity," announcer Cheryl Grace said, "but let's see that again."