Broadway Features and Reviews
The Broadway Origins of The Glass Menagerie
By Ella Robinson, Broadway Magazine
One of the most celebrated revivals of the current New York Theatre season is Roundabout Theatre's astounding production of Tennessee Williams' classic play "The Glass Menagerie." The play has a long and star-filled Broadway history.
Thought to be semi-autobiographical, "The Glass Menagerie" tells the story of a young man remembering back to a time when he lived with his overbearing mother and crippled sister. It is among the most famous in a genre called 'the memory play' and was the first of Tennessee William's productions that was successful, launching his career in 1944 and propelling him to Broadway for 563 performances at the Playhouse Theater.
A 1945 New York Times review of the premiere written by Lewis Nichols states, "Mr. Williams has a real ear for faintly sardonic dialogue, unexpected phrases, and an affection for his characters."
Nichols also comments on the acting, writing "Tennessee Williams' simple play forms the framework for some of the finest acting to be seen in many a day."
The young playwright sought to develop a new technique for the stage called "sculptural drama" that restricted actors' movements on stage and created a different aesthetic for the audience, drawing them in by only incorporating actions that were essential.
But although it won him critical acclaim and brought him to the Broadway stage for the first time, this was still an emotional experience as the play was born out of Williams' own past. In interviews, he stated that the play was "the saddest play I have ever written. It is full of pain. It is painful for me to see it."
The original Broadway cast included Eddie Dowling, Laurette Taylor, Julie Haydon, and Anthony Ross. Other notable actors and actresses who have reprised the roles of "The Glass Menagerie" on both film and stage include Katherine Hepburn playing the mother (Amanda Wingfield) in the 1973 T.V. movie, John Malkovich playing the son (Tom Wingfield) in the 1987 film, and Calista Flockhart playing the daughter (Laura Wingfield) in the 1994 Broadway revival.
With an all-star cast including Jessica Lange, Christian Slater, Josh Lucas, and Sarah Paulson, "The Glass Menagerie" also hit Broadway sixty-six years after its original premiere.
Now the most recent Glass Menagerie has arrived in New York City courtesy of the Roundabout Theatre. Debuting Wednesday, March 24th, Gordon Edelstein's revival of Tennessee Williams' play has already collected some positive reviews from it's Off Broadway run at the Laura Pels Theater, earning the approval of notable critics such as Charles Isherwood of the New York Times who writes, "the whole production, which takes place on a set by Michael Yeargan that blends gritty realism with the requisite poetry, frames one of the season's great performances."
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