Criterion Center Stage Right, (11/15/1994 - 1/01/1995)

First Preview: Oct 29, 1994
Opening Date: Nov 15, 1994
Closing Date: Jan 01, 1995
Total Previews: 19
Total Performances: 57

Category: Play, Drama, Revival, Broadway
Description: Part I: Preparation for a Gentleman Caller. Part II: The Gentleman Calls.
Setting: St. Louis

Opening Night Production Staff

Theatre Owned / Operated by B. S. Moss Enterprises (Charles B. Moss, Jr., Executive Director)

Produced by The Roundabout Theatre Company (Todd Haimes: Artistic Director; Gene Feist: Founding Director)

Written by Tennessee Williams; Incidental music by Miriam Sturm

Directed by Frank Galati

Scenic Design by Loy Arcenas; Costume Design by Noel Taylor; Lighting Design by Mimi Jordan Sherin; Sound Design by Richard Dunning; Projection Design by John Boesche

Company Manager: Denys Baker; Roundabout General Manager: Ellen Richard

Production Stage Manager: Jay Adler; Stage Manager: Charles Kindl; Technical Supervisor: Larry Morley

Casting: McCorkle/Cole Casting; Roundabout Director of Planning and Development: Julia C. Levy; Roundabout Director of Marketing: David B. Steffen; Press Representative: Boneau / Bryan-Brown; Dialect Coach: Deborah Hecht; General Press Representative: Boneau / Bryan-Brown; Advertising: Nappi / Eliran Advertising, Ltd.

Opening Night Cast

Julie HarrisAmanda Wingfield
Calista FlockhartLaura Wingfield
Željko IvanekTom Wingfield
Kevin KilnerJim O'Connor

Understudies: Laurel Holloman (Laura Wingfield), Jordan Matter (Jim O'Connor), Martha Randall (Amanda Wingfield) and Brett Rickaby (Jim O'Connor, Tom Wingfield)

Awards and Nominations

Drama Desk Award

 1995 Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play [nominee] 

Kevin Kilner

Theatre World

winner 1995 Award [recipient] 

Calista Flockhart

winner 1995 Award [recipient] 

Kevin Kilner

Reviews


New York Daily News: "This 'Glass Menagerie's' Beauty is Crystal-Clear"

Although the Roundabout's revival of "The Glass Menagerie" has a stellar cast, led by Julie Harris, the real star is something called The English Language, once a familiar figure on Broadway, now relegated to increasingly infrequent appearances.

Director Frank Galati puts language center stage as soon as the play begins, where he projects the opening stage directions above the Wingfield living room: "...entered by a fire escape, a structure whose name is a touch of accidental poetic truth, for all of these huge buildings are always burning with the slow and implacable fires of human desperation."

When, a moment later, Tom, played by the gifted actor Zeljko Ivanek, utters the line, "I give you truth in the pleasant disguise of illusion," we are under the author's spell.

Tom, who narrates the play, is very clearly a surrogate for the author (Thomas Lanier Williams, aka Tennessee). In his languid manner of speaking, his supple movements and, most importantly, in the irony that often sparkles in his eyes, Ivanek suggests Williams without stooping to outright imitation or caricature.

There is, after all, a great deal of irony and cruel humor in "The Glass Menagerie." We are invariably touched by the scene in which the pathetically vulnerable Laura Wingfield has a "date" with Jim, the boy she had a crush on in high school. Her brother Tom has brought him, a fellow factory worker, home. Their mother, who still lives in a world of Southern gallantry, calls Jim a "gentleman caller."

The gentleman caller's visit, however, can only end disappointingly. Far from a beau bearing flowers and soft words, Jim is a go-getter; an early believer in the commercial possibilities of a new technology called television. Inevitably, he is not interested in the sickly girl whose world revolves around a collection of glass animals.

If this production does not mine all the richness in this great play, it nevertheless conveys much of its beauty. Julie Harris conveys Amanda Wingfield's desperate strength as she tries to marry off Laura. Williams himself called Amanda "heroic;" and Harris suggests this. What she misses is the tender but comic poetry of Amanda dwelling in the Old South that she seems not to have noticed has died. Too often Harris seems a mere scold.

Calista Flockhart is a touching Laura. Kevin Kilner conveys the power of the Gentleman Caller with easy grace.

The physical production is simple. Mimi Jordan Sherin's lighting adds considerably to the play's magic.


New York Daily News
11/16/1994

New York Post: "'Glass' Slipper Perfect Fit for Julie Harris Harrie"

Was Tennessee Williams' "The Glass Menagerie" the first "memory" play? I forget. Certainly 50 years ago it made waves in American theater that can still be felt today.

That mixture, wilder than Wilder, of realism and symbolism, those characters deeply felt, sharply etched, lost in the miasma once poetic and affected. That new dramatic voice, complex in accent yet authentic in tone.

It was a recipe for revolution, although oddly enough the critics of the day were perhaps most impressed by the actors and the acting.

They were more familiar at the time, although today "The Glass Menagerie" itself seems almost dangerously familiar - a modern classic not yet absolutely sure of its place on history's shelf.

The latest production, which arrived at the Roundabout Theater last night, has been staged by Frank Galati, and has Julie Harris as Amanda Wingfield - a role to which her entire career now seems to have been hitherto directed. It is a part which is as Harris as tweed.

How do you stage the play itself? There are problems - a number of slightly different variants, not to mention an earlier version "Portrait of a Girl in Glass" - and what do you do about the explicit stage directions with its carefully planted visuals that are to be projected on misty settings?

Many stagings have avoided these, including the New York original with Laurette Taylor, and the 1948 London version I saw with Helen Hayes directed by Gielgud. Other directors, such as John Dexter, have been truer to Williams in their fashion.

Galati has made some significant cuts, but uses the projections, and Loy Arcenas' beautiful setting (itself a homage to Jo Mielziner), Noel Taylor's apt costumes and Mimi Jordan Sherin's crepuscular lighting give the play its precisely vague ambiance.

Williams' play is about time and memory, prison and escape, about the pain of difference and the cruelty of indifference, and concerns of an over-genteel Southern mother Amanda (Harris); her crippled daughter Laura (Calista Flockhart); her son, Tom (Zeljko Ivanek); and his friend at work, a possible suitor for Laura, Jim (Kevin Kilner).

The nuances are delicate to the point of exquisite, yet the writing repeatedly returns to a harsh realism, as Williams threads his strands of pink and purple silk through burlap.

All this Galati and his cast have very well caught - the speeches properly drift out into those daring plain and fancy poetics at the heart of Williams.

Even though two of the roles are fundamentally miscast, the acting is excellent. Flockhart is obviously too exultantly beautiful for Laura - she would be far too close a call for most Gentleman Callers - although she acts with just the proper shy radiance. And Kilner's assertive Jim too attractive, too sincere - they seem a couple made for each other.

But Harris, her voice fluting with the eccentricities of a faded nightingale and her maternal feet set solidly in pragmatic reality, is right. As is Ivanek's brusquely extravagant Tom, narrator, character and, presumably understudy for a playwright who early on learned how to use a fire escape.


New York Post
11/16/1994

Variety: "The Glass Menagerie"

Like all of our greatest playwrights, Tennessee Williams tests everyone -- producer, director, designer, actor, critic, theatergoer -- who ventures within his orbit; how we respond reveals as much about ourselves as about the artist.

Frank Galati's revival of "The Glass Menagerie"-- the heartbreaking "memory play" that marked Williams' Broadway debut just about 50 years ago -- takes the playwright more literally at his word than most productions, including the one that launched the play.

And yet, by virtue of a galvanizing overview and a pair of extraordinarily risky, intensely felt performances, the production resonates far beyond this literalism: It leaves an audience member with something like the shivering senses of astonishment and pity that those first visitors to the near-squalid Wingfield flat, next to the Paradise Ballroom in St. Louis, must have experienced.

Julie Harris has too much Northern crustiness bred in her bones to be an ideal Amanda, but she's such a complete spell-caster that this almost revisionist portrayal has its own rewards.

Watch her stick her chin out petulantly as she pouts about marrying her children's father on the rebound: Her Amanda is less the Southern belle who once entertained 17 gentleman callers on a single sultry afternoon a lifetime ago in a Dixie that no longer exists, than the stern, meddling and desperate single mother of two grown children whose prospects are marginal at best.

At 24, her elder child, Laura (Calista Flockhart, in the leading role she has been working toward during several remarkable seasons Off Broadway), lame and hopelessly introverted, spends her time listening to old phonograph records and tending her collection of glass animals.

Two years younger and stuck in a menial warehouse job, brother Tom (Zeljko Ivanek) threatens to follow in the footsteps of his long-absent father, though not before succumbing to Amanda's nagging demand that he bring home a gentleman caller (Kevin Kilner) to woo Laura.

The play's narrator and authorial stand-in, Tom is a would-be poet who finally does escape this hothouse world, only to be forever haunted by his sister's image in the wake of that date gone tragically wrong.

This Tom's relationship with this Laura has a feline sensuousness that's wrenching -- and quite perfect. From the moment he introduces the play with a molasses-thick drawl that eventually moderates to something more provocatively insinuating, Ivanek plays Tom as though he'd been choreographed for a ballet of the play.

This is a man who can tie a bow tie perfectly without a mirror, whose body language suggests sexual ambivalence and hunger without broadcasting it, and whose plangent voice gets right inside you.

Flockhart is so young looking that the physical gulf between her and Harris is a hurdle, and she's so otherworldly that by the end you almost expect her to raise a finger and croak, "Phone home."

Yet her scene with Kilner -- a bit slick looking for the gentleman caller -- is beautifully played, every beat right. Kilner's voice, by the way, is uncannily reminiscent of William Hurt's.

The simple set by Loy Arcenas (everywhere these days), pays homage to the Jo Mielziner original; Mimi Sherin's lighting mixes moonbeams and candlelight to moody effect.

Harris' longtime costumer, Noel Taylor, has performed the miracle of creating a second-act antediluvian gown for Amanda -- sherbet-green chiffon elegantly gathered -- that doesn't humiliate the character.

Galati, who won Tonys for his Steppenwolf Theater adaptation and staging of "The Grapes of Wrath," uses projections to highlight stage directions and bits of dialogue, something Williams specified in the script but which is generally ignored.

While most of it is redundant, if unobtrusive, the device does provide a much stronger social and political context for the play than one usually gets, without mucking up the poetry. It's a beautiful production.


Variety
11/16/1994

View full site