Tuesday, October 22, 2013



                                         PHOTOS BY MICHAEL J. LUTCH

To help launch his literary career, Tennessee Williams adopted the name “Tennessee” from the state of his father’s birth and he often looked to his own family for inspiration for his plays.  His first successful writing endeavor, “The Glass Menagerie,” set in St. Louis in 1937, takes place in a dreary apartment, not unlike one he grew up in himself.  Venture to the Booth Theatre, 222 West 45th Street, New York City to see a splendid production of this sadly envisioned play.  The run has been extended to February 23,2014.
As a child, Williams spent two years with legs that were paralyzed, and it was during that impressionable time that his mother encouraged him to read and to make up stories.  She gave him his first typewriter when he was thirteen.  In “The Glass Menagerie,” he becomes Tom, the brother who is the breadwinner of the family after their father deserts  them.  His real life mother, a genteel Southern lady who is smothering to her children, is quite the image of Amanda in the play. 
Amanda, who lives in the past, feasts on her memories when she was the Southern belle, entertaining seventeen gentlemen callers in one afternoon,  bragging that she had “a nimble tongue to meet all occasions.”  Amanda overshadows her daughter Laura, an overly shy and timid girl who views her small leg deformity as a major obstacle in her life. 
Cherry Jones is superb as the gushing and gracious Amanda, calculating in her obsession to better her children’s lives, especially in her quest to find at least one gentleman caller to marry Laura.  She nags Tom, wonderfully portrayed by Zachery Quintor, to save the family.  Tom, who narrates this memory play, is locked into a job he hates at the shoe factory, a job Tennessee Williams endured for years, as he strives to write his poetry and find the adventures he seeks through endless nights at the movies.
 Laura, in her fragile state, is obsessed with her collection of miniature glass animals and her old records, as captured by Celia Keenan-Bolger's portrayal of quiet desperation.  For a moment in time, when Tom brings home a fellow shoe company employee to meet Laura, a man she loved in high school, the bigger than life Jim O’Connor, admirable in the hands of Brian J. Smith, there is a glimmer of hope for the Wingfield family.  But that hope dies, like the lights in the apartment, when Jim  reveals his secret.  John Tiffany directs this intimate play with strength and sensitivity.
 For tickets ($42-147), call 212-239-6200 or 800-432-7250 or online at telecharge.com.    Performances are Tuesday at 7 p.m., Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., and Thursday at 7 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m.
Watch how the delicate glass figurine of a unicorn symbolizes Laura and the fragile hold she has on life, a life similar to Tennessee Williams’ own sister Rose.

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