Posted in domestic drama, drama, family drama, revival, Tennessee Williams

Unicorns

Handle with care

Memories are amongst our most personal possessions.

The Glass Menagerie
Finn Wittrock and Madison Ferris in The Glass MenageriePhoto by Julieta Cervantes

The Glass Menagerie, at the Belasco through July 2nd, is Tennessee Williams look backwards with love and regret. His reminiscences could also be said to have the brittleness of glass ornaments.

Amanda Wingfield (Sally Field) lives in fantastical remembrance. Her son, Tom (Joe Mantello) spins a web of care and concern. His sister Laura (Madison Ferris) and a Gentleman Caller, Jim O’Connor (Finn Wittrock) are fragile figments of  Tom’s and Amanda’s collective and conflicting recollection.

Mother Love

 

The Glass Menagerie
Joe Mantello and Sally Field in a scene from The Glass Menagerie Photo by Julieta Cervantes.

Not all overprotective mothers who have delusional expectations for their children are of one kind. We’ve seen Amanda intrepreted in any number of revivals.

Sally Field’s rendition is tender-tough. She has just enough steel to bend when disappointed, and a sense of downtrodden grandeur befitting the role.

The Glass Menagerie is a wondrous articulation of poetry written in prose. As its narrator, Mantello plays Tom as straightforward and unsentimental. He is down-to-earth and practical but not unfeeling.

Unadorned

The Glass Menagerie
Madison Ferris and Sally Field in The Glass MenageriePhoto by Julieta Cervantes

Under Sam Gold’s direction, The Glass Menagerie is presented in bare bones style. Except for a pink ballgown in which Amanda flirts with the Gentleman Calling on her daughter, the actors are for all intents and purposes in rehearsal clothes (costumes courtesy of Wojciech Dziedzic). The minimalism extends to the sets (by Andrew Lieberman) and the lighting (designed by Adam Silverman).

This is one of my favorite of Williams’ masterpieces, but this production is not among my favorites. That is not to say that the cast are not at ease in their characters’ skins; they are convincing and comfortable, showing affection for each other, as the memories unfurl. Like the setting, however, it just all feels too plain, simple and no-frills.

Theirs is an interesting interpretation, of course, and it could be concluded that the simplicity of the decor and costumes, and perhaps even the candle-lit scenes, may force us to concentrate on the words.

My take leans towards the view that rather than underscoring the beauty of the language, the lack of stage embellishments undercuts Williams’ intent.

For more information and tickets, please visit http://glassmenagerieonbroadway.com

 

 

Posted in dance, opera, Tennessee Williams, theatrical events

A Sampling of Off Broadway Theater

OFF-BROADWAY THEATRE LISTINGS
“The Mutiliated” extended through December 1.


Marie Antoinette. Photo by Pavel Antonov



SOHO REP 2013-14 SEASON TO INCLUDE NEW YORK PREMIERE OF DAVID ADJMI’S MARIE ANTOINETTE AND WORLD PREMIERE OF BRANDEN JACOBS-JENKINS’ AN OCTOROON

Directed by Rebecca Taichman and Sarah Benson, Respectively, Shows are Among the Most Ambitious Soho Rep Has Ever Produced
SOHO REP 2013-14 PROGRAMMING

Soho Rep,
with John Adrian Selzer, presents
Marie Antoinette (New York Premiere)
by David Adjmi
Directed by Rebecca Taichman

October 9 – extended to November 24
Opening: October 20
Performance Schedule: Tues—Sun at 7:30p, Saturday at 3p

In association with American Repertory Theater and Yale Repertory Theatre



Soho Rep,
In association with John Adrian Selzer, presents
An Octoroon (World Premiere)
by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins
Directed by Sarah Benson
April – May, 2014


Soho Rep. (46 Walker Street, Manhattan)
Tickets: Through Nov 3: $35 General / $50 Premium; Nov 5–17: $55 General / $75 Premium;
Nov 19—24: $55 General / $80 Premium; $20 Student Rush; $30 General Rush;
$0.99 Sunday, October 13, 27
sohorep.org212.352.3101
___________________________________________

“Bleeding Love”, free staged readings of “a post-apocalyptic new musical comedy”, book byJason Schafer, music by Arthur Lafrentz Bacon, lyrics by Harris Doran, directed by Michael Bush, presented by Amas Musical Theatre as part of the Amas Musical Theatre Lab Series, on Tuesday, October 15th at 3pm and 7pm and Wednesday, October 16th at 1:00pm, at The Theatre at the 14th Street Y, 344 East 14th Street.
TICKETS: FREE
FOR RESERVATIONS EMAIL boxoffice@amasmusical.org, or CALL 212-563-2565


AMAS MUSICAL THEATRE
THE AMAS MUSICAL THEATRE LAB
Donna Trinkoff/Artistic Producer 
PRESENTS A FREE STAGED READING OF
FRIDA
A Musical
 by Michael Aman and Dana P. Rowe
Musical Director
Doug Oberhamer
 Directed by 
Maria Torres
Friday, October 25 @ 6:00pm
Saturday, October 26 @ 3:00pm & 7:00pm
The Theatre at the 14th Street Y
344 East 14th Street, New York City
(between 1st and 2nd Avenues)
For Reservations email boxoffice@amasmusical.org or call 212 563-2565
Visit www.amasmusical.org for more information   
Photo by Daniel Phakos

Support the Walk.
Stay for the Dance!


In support of the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, the Graham Ensemble and dancers from the Martha Graham School will premiere

“Reservoir”

a new dance work by Cynthia Anne Stanley, Founder of Bardos Ballet Theater,
Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Brooklyn War Memorial at Cadman Plaza Park 

11:15am – 2:00pm
The performance repeats every half hour

Performances are free to the public!

 Live Music by Owen Weaver
Costumes by Andrae Gonzalo
Dedicated to Brian Torrey Scott

Come celebrate, support and enjoy!
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

ABRONS ARTS CENTER PRESENTS US PREMIERE OF IRISH THEATER COMPANY DEAD CENTRE
‘Souvenir’Adapts Marcel Proust’s Epic Novel Cycle Into An Hour-long Play
Abrons Arts Center Presents

Dead Centre, Souvenir (US Premiere)

Written & Performed by Bush Moukarzel

Directed by Ben Kidd

Performances: November 14–17, 20–23 at 8:00 p.m.

Abrons Arts Center Experimental Theater (466 Grand Street)

Photo by Scott Wynn

Legendary avant-garde performers Mink Stole and Penny Arcade are set to star in the first New York revival in 38 years of Tennessee Williams’s tender black comedy “The Mutilated.” Directed by Cosmin Chivu, the prodcution runs Nov 1-24 at the New Ohio Theater has extended to December 1.

This is the first production in 38 years of the play, which will now continue it’s run through December 1st in response to popular interest.

Penny Arcade, Male, Mink Stole in The Mutilated by Tennessee Williams, Photo by Cosmin Chivu
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The Public Theater Extends the world premiere musical ‘Fun Home” to Sunday, November 17th.
Music by Jeanine Tesori, Book and Lyrics by Lisa Kron, Based on the Alison Bechdel Book
Directed by Sam Gold. Single tickets, starting at $81.50, can be purchased by calling (212) 967-7555, 

www.publictheater.org, or in person at the Taub Box Office at The Public Theater at Astor Place at 425 Lafayette Street. 
Photo by Joan Marcus


Posted in Brian J. Smith, Celia Keenan-Bolger, Cherry Jones, Gentlemen Caller, John Tiffany, Tennessee Williams, The Glass Menagerie, Zachary Quinto

As delicate as glass

One might think that
it  would be tiresome to see a play over and over again. One would be wrong if that play were from Tennessee Williams’ greatest hits. They are so subject to reinterpretation that just the anticipation of a new production fires the imagination.

“The Glass Menagerie,” at the Booth through January 5th, rewards the patience of its audiences.

Cherry Jones as Amanda Wingfield and Celia Keenan-Bolger as Laura in “The Glass Menagerie” at the Booth.
Photo (c) Michael J. Lutch

As always in “The Glass Menagerie,” Laura’s (Celia Keenan-Bolger) familiar collection of glass figurines are a reminder of how frangible life and memory are.  We know that “The Glass Menagerie” is a memory play because her brother, Tom Wingfield (Zachary Quinto), tells us so as he introduces his narration. We also know that memory can play tricks. Tom illuminates a past he will ultimately leave behind him.

Brian J. Smith as Jim, the Gentlemen Caller coming home for dinner with Zachary Quinto’s Tom.
Photo (c) Michael J. Lutch  

Zachary Quinto wears his “touch of the poet” magnificently. At times he is taken air-borne as the poesy in Williams’ play takes flight. Celia Keenan-Bolger’s understated fragility gives Laura the delicacy of one of her glass pieces. Like her favorite little glass unicorn, she doesn’t fit in. While her unicorn is comfortable with the others in her collection, she is always ill-at-ease. Even the amiable Gentlemen Caller (Brian J. Smith) puts Laura at sixes-and-sevens.  Laura’s mother, Amanda (Cherry Jones) wants to provide a future for Laura who is crippled as much by her inability to connect with others as by her physical disability.

Tom (Zachary Quinto), Amanda (Cherry Jones) and Jim (Brian J. Smith) at the table, and Laura (Celia Keenan-Bolger) on the coach in “The Glass Menagerie.” Photo (c) Michael J. Lutch

“The Glass Menagerie” is an often revived work out of Tennessee Williams’ oeuvre. This is probably at least in part due to its fluidity of style. The blend of sublime melancholy with a sincere naturalism gives the play its many levels.

In “The Glass Menagerie,” Amanda lives in a world of her own imagining. She lives in a glamorous past, before she married the telephone man “who fell in love with long distance.”  Amanda masks her strength under a cloak of Southern gentility. Cherry Jones does this well, despite the plummy accent that makes some of her bon mots unintelligible.

Celia Keenan-Bolger as Laura with Brian J. Smith as Jim, the Gentlemen Caller in “The Glass Menagerie” at the Booth.  Photo (c) Michael J. Lutch. The production has extended to February 23, 2014.

Tom suffers his remembrances as if they were lashes on his flesh. Tom transcends the world of imagination and reality. He recalls and edits where he has been so he is free to travel on to new adventures and move on with his life.  It is Jim, the Gentleman Caller, who embodies a healthy sensibility. He brings a reality to the Wingfields’ home. Brian J. Smith’s affability as Jim is a pleasant is a stark contrast to the family’s insularity.

Natasha Katz’s lighting is a fifth character in “The Glass Menagerie,” moody and intense. The well-designed costumes, and capriciously off-kilter sets by Bob Crowley are a perfect fit for this production.
John Tiffany’s languid pacing in the first act, suggesting a dream-like unreality could be benefit from a little tightening. This is just a niggling issue with this transcendent “The Glass Menagerie.”   It is a noble addition to the author’s grand and eloquent legacy. (See also the review by Tamara Beck on VP at http://www.vevlynspen.com/2013/11/the-glass-menagerie-worthy-tribute-to.html)

For more information on “The Glass Menagerie,” visit http://theglassmenageriebroadway.com

Posted in Amanda Plummer, Brad Dourif, Suddenly Last Summer, Tennessee Williams, The Glass Menagerie, The Mlk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore

2 Characters in Search of

Brad Dourif as Felice and Amanda Plummer as Clare in Tennessee Williams “The Two Character Play” at New World  Stages. Photo by Carol Rosegg.

Is it possible that Tennessee Williams was not the best judge of his own work?

Photo by Carol Rosegg. Amanda Plummer as Clare and Brad Dourif as  Felice in  Tennessee Williams’ “The Two Character Play” playing at New World Stages.

“The Two Character Play,” in an open run at New World Stages, for instance, was his favorite, and Williams drew it in comparison to “The Glass Menagerie.” In fact, it is a muddle not unlike “The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore,” a play which appeals mostly for its phantasmagorical title.
“The Two Character Play” is confusing and befuddling. It’s a combination of a “let’s put on a show” story and “The Madwoman of Chaillot.” The madwoman here is Clare (Amanda Plummer), Felice’s  (Brad Dourif) sister-actor, who unravels rather easily. And makes perfect sense while doing it. Felice, the playwright and stage manager, fusses to make everything perfect for her, for them.

Brad Dourif and Amanda Plummer are clearly having a good time doing “The Two Character Play.” Photo  by Carol Rosegg.
“The Two Character Play” is about two unmoored actors, putting on a play without their company to back and support them. Despite this odd premise, it is a bit funny and not as bleak as it might be. Alas, my personal reaction sounds like this: “Is this brilliant? and I don’t get it. Is this dreadful? and I still don’t get it.” 

There are mysteries aplenty in “The Two Character Play,” other than this reviewer’s state of mind, of course. There’s symbolism aplenty too. Revelling in his words is one of the pleasures in witnessing a Tennessee Williams drama. That experience is as true of the lyrical opening of the above-mentioned “The Glass Menagerie” as it is in the lovely narrative of “La Vieux Carre The beauty and terror of his language even shines through the film version of “Suddenly Last Summer.”

In “The Two Character Play”Tennessee the poet– and he was definitely that– is at work. Just not his best work, no matter what he had to say about it.

For more information about “The Two Character Play,” please visit http://thetwocharacterplay.com/