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Glengarry Glen Ross

- Backstage with the Playwrights

Glengarry Glen Ross
(Glengarry Glen Ross Website)

By David Mamet

Presented by Jeffrey Richards, Jerry Frankel, Jam Theatricals, Boyett Ostar Productions, Ronald Frankel, Philip Lacerte, Stephanie P. McClelland/CIM Productions, Barry Weisbord, Zendog Productions, Herbert Goldsmith Productions, and Roundabout Theatre Company

Bernard R. Jacobs Theatre
242 West 45th Street

Alan Alda as Shelly Levene
Frederick Weller as John Williamson
Gordon Clapp as Dave Moss
Jeffrey Tambor as George Aaronow
Liev Schreiber as Richard Roma
Tom Wopat as James Lingk
Jordan Lage as Baylen

Directed by Joe Mantello
Set Design: Santo Loquasto
Costume Design: Laura Bauer
Lighting Design: Kenneth Posner
Press: Irene Gandy
Production Stage Manager: William Joseph Barnes
Casting: Bernard Telsey Casting
General Management: Albert Poland
Company Manager: Bruce Klinger
Technical Supervision: Neil A. Mazzella

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
May 19, 2005

In a flashy, red, Chinese restaurant and a flat, brown, real estate office, both on the edge of a timeless Chicago neighborhood, five devious salesmen, one equally devious detective, and one naïve and passive man with wallet move about each other in a rhythmic verbal dance, a dance of wits and wile, a dance of survival and surrender. Mamet’s 1984 Pulitzer-prize winning play, Glengarry Glen Ross (referring to two real estate developments) has been tautly restaged by Joe Mantello with a winning cast and a winning set.

In fact, the production has been nominated for several 2005 Tonys awards, including Best Play Revival, three Best Featured Actors in a Play – Alda, Clapp, Schreiber, Best Director of a Play, and Best Scenery of a Play. The cast includes seven male stars of stage and screen, Alan Alda as desperate Shelly Levene, Liev Schreiber as slick Richard Roma, Gordon Clapp as sturdy Dave Moss, Jeffrey Tambor as elusive George Aaronow, Frederick Weller as clever John Williamson, Tom Wopat as vulnerable James Lingk, and Jordan Lage as persistent detective, Baylen.

The entire cast draws the audience into the two verbally choreographed acts, with Liev Schreiber and Alan Alda leading the ensemble with lightning speed repartee, enhanced by body language, that showcases Alda’s salesman-desperate-for-an-A-list-of-leads and Schreiber’s Salesman-with-the-forked-tongue-of-a-snake. The audience well knows the pitfalls of the real estate business, but few of us have experienced the likes of an office “ensemble” that is so rhythmically in sync, when vulnerable prey cross its path.. Wopat (James Lingk, who has bought two properties, before telling his vindictive, angry wife) has not a chance, with Alda (Levene) and Schreiber (Roma) working him till his steel melts to butter.

Jeffrey Tambor (George Aaronow) plays the character that spins the scheme, a middle-of-the-night robbery with contracts and leads flying out the window, or, rather, into the drawers of the hottest competition in town. Gordon Clapp (Dave Moss) is more or less a wrap-around character, all things to all people, and Frederick Weller (John Williamson, the office boss well-disguised perception) is central to the action, as the complex plot unfolds. Jordan Lage (who was recently reviewed at Mint Theater Company) possesses a quintessential dark, piercing gaze that sees beneath the figurative veneer, so well symbolized by the lacquered veneer of the red Chinese décor and the unpolished veneer of the brown street-front décor.

The women of the play are imaginary and undeveloped, such as Lingk’s apparently retaliatory wife, Levene’s apparently needy daughter, and Roma’s apparently seductive harem. Mamet’s script of scat-speak is priceless, and Joe Mantello’s split-timed direction is instrumental in the unpeeling of characters’ sorrowful souls and survival scenarios. Santo Loquasto’s sets are quite elaborate but casual in tone; at first, the corner of a red restaurant, and, later, the interior of a not so neat office, soon ransacked with disheveled desks, chalkboard, and mysterious back room. It’s advised to see this play more than once, as the vivacious, verbal/visual interplay can distract from the surprise twists of fate that attack the self-protecting characters, like thunder in the belly.

Glengarry Glen Ross
Photo courtesy of Scott Landis

Glengarry Glen Ross
Photo courtesy of Scott Landis

Glengarry Glen Ross
Photo courtesy of Scott Landis

Glengarry Glen Ross
Photo courtesy of Scott Landis

Glengarry Glen Ross
Photo courtesy of Scott Landis

Glengarry Glen Ross
Photo courtesy of Scott Landis

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