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Sally Field and Joe Mantello Star in Tennessee Williams’ "The Glass Menagerie" at the Belasco Theatre
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Sally Field and Joe Mantello Star in Tennessee Williams’ "The Glass Menagerie" at the Belasco Theatre

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Scott Rudin, Lincoln Center Theater
et al. and
Exec. Producers: Joey Parnes, Sue Wagner, John Johnson

Sally Field and Joe Mantello
Tennessee Williams’
The Glass Menagerie
(The Glass Menagerie Website)

Directed by Sam Gold
Madison Ferris and Finn Wittrock

At the
Belasco Theatre
111 West 44th Street

Scenic Design: Andrew Lieberman
Costume Design: Wojciech Dziedzic
Lighting Design: Adam Silverman
Sound Design: Bray Poor
Casting: Caparelliotis Casting
Production Stage Manager: Martha Donaldson
Press Representative: DKC/O&M
Company Manager: Christopher Taggart
Production Manager: Aurora Productions

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
March 11, 2017 Matinee

Sam Gold has directed Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie with bold, dramatic intent, maximizing the sorrow and anger that inflame everlasting memories of unhappy homes. The 1940’s Wingfield home in the South has been stripped of wallpaper, lace, and music. Instead we see the black brick walls of the Belasco Theatre, up to the rafters and seemingly beyond. That bleak, dark expanse is symbolic of Tom Wingfield’s overwrought memories of his mother, Amanda, sister, Laura, and friend, Jim O’Connor, also known as the Gentleman Caller. Only Andrew Lieberman’s bland, industrial kitchen table with chairs exists as scenery, added to a props cart of candlesticks, tablecloth, plain dishes, cutlery, and not much more. The actors of this intimate tale seem smaller than life, expanding on the notion of fading memory. Tom Wingfield, a graying, mature Joe Mantello (well known on New York stages as actor and director), is dressed by Wojciech Dziedzic in nondescript tee shirt, jeans, sneakers, and glasses. He narrates as the playwright’s voice, while walking about, munching an apple, and talking about tricks and tribulations. The audience must immediately adjust to this unique take on a Broadway favorite (this is my fourth review of a new production of The Glass Menagerie in twelve years).

Sally Field is Tom’s anxiety-driven mother, Amanda, who sells magazines to help pay the electric bill, as she complains that Tom’s wages at the plant cannot provide for the family. Tom’s father famously worked for the telephone company and fell in love with long distance. An invisible wall portrait is all that remains of Amanda’s past romances. Amanda worries for her physically disabled daughter, Laura (Madison Ferris), who, Amanda learns, left secretarial school to wander the parks and dream. Ms. Field plays Amanda with shrillness, bursting her facial bones and veins in distraught isolation. In fact, on this empty, endless stage space, not only is the family existing in Adam Silverman’s spotlighted isolation, but each character is self-isolated, enveloped in thin hope and thick fear. Ms. Ferris, as Laura, is actually disabled, performing in a wheelchair, lowering herself with all four limbs in painful (I am sure) contortions to arrive in a chair or on a floor cushion. This must take tremendous will and strength, and I applaud Ms. Ferris for making this effort so seamless in the drama. As noted above, this production magnifies all hardships and emotional debris absorbed by each member of the Wingfield family. Tom, the most tortured, can barely keep a muscle or nerve inactive throughout. He’s exploding from within, and Mr. Mantello pulls this role up with his courageous naturalness.

Tom’s thin, graying hair is a metaphor for time and relationships lost, after the fallout of the dinner with Jim, the Gentleman Caller (a masterfully sensitive Finn Wittrock). Jim O’Connor and Laura’s stage front scene, with the shattering of Laura’s favorite glass animal, the fragile, tiny unicorn, was spellbinding in candlelight. For these brief moments, each of the Wingfield’s had elusive hope and happiness. Amanda, waiting to greet her daughter and Caller, is dressed in a peony pink prom gown, the lonely matron reliving her youth. This Amanda does not flirt with Jim, as past Amandas have been wont to do, but, rather, she coaxes and coddles him for Laura, only for shattered dreams, mimicking the unicorn’s shattered horn. Tom does not go quietly, after Amanda’s wailing reprimands and guilt-laden recriminations. Tom’s hours-long, nightly escapes “to the movies” enabled him, like Laura, to exist in thought. Time has contorted Tom’s cruel memories. This Glass Menagerie grows on the viewer. Kudos to all.

Madison Ferris, Sally Field, Joe Mantello
in Tennessee Williams' "The Glass Menagerie"
Courtesy of Julieta Cervantes

Finn Wittrock and Madison Ferris
in Tennessee Williams' "The Glass Menagerie"
Courtesy of Julieta Cervantes

Madison Ferris and Sally Field
in Tennessee Williams' "The Glass Menagerie"
Courtesy of Julieta Cervantes

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at