Bryan Batt is every inch the Southern gentleman, so it makes perfect sense that he would tap another Southerner, playwright Tennessee Williams, for the punny title of his new show, "Batt on a Hot Tin Roof," which opens a new space for Society Cabaret at the Hotel Rex.
Do not, however, look for signs of "no-neck monsters" here. Instead, the show — born as a post-Hurricane Katrina fundraiser for displaced musicians and actors — promises songs and stories that tap into Batt's deep twin roots of musical theater and New Orleans.
"It sold out instantly," Batt recalls of the original Le Chat Noir version, "so I did it again and again and again and over the years it morphed into this show."
He couldn't be happier with his Louisiana hometown.
"People either say, 'Oh, I love New Orleans!' or 'I can't wait to go.' They never say, 'Eh,'" he says. "It's like Tennessee Williams said. There's three cities in this country — New York, San Francisco and New Orleans. The rest is Cleveland!"
If you're part of that "can't wait" N'awlins contingent, Batt recommends the jazz brunch at Commander's Palace.
"I'd also say take a stroll around Audubon Park, it's so beautiful, or have a poor boy at Parkway Bakery and just roam around the French Quarter."
He's too modest to suggest a visit to Hazelnut, the home furnishings shop he runs with his partner of 24 years, Tom Cianfichi. There you can pick up a touch of the Big Easy, or one of Batt's two books — one on Southern style and the other about his late, beloved mother.
The former "Mad Men" star has an extensive Broadway résumé including "La Cage aux Folles," "Sunset Boulevard," and, yes, "Cats," which got Batt's character fabulously dissed in "Jeffrey," which Batt recalls as "one of the most wonderful experiences I've had in theater."
Something Batt won't have time to do while visiting the Bay Area is see his "Jeffrey" screen husband Patrick Stewart on stage across the Bay in "No Man's Land" at Berkeley Repertory Theatre. "I had such a great experience with him. He's so giving and kind. Just the real deal."
That show is Broadway-bound. Batt knows that territory well.
IF YOU GOBatt on a Hot Tin Roof
Where: Hotel Rex, 562 Sutter St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Thursday-Friday, 4 and 8 p.m. Saturday
Tickets: $40 to $65
Contact: (800) 982-2787, www.societycabaret.com