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Tuesday, 22 October 2013 22:08

Broadway Review: THE GLASS MENAGERIE Shines

Written by
Celia Kennan-Bolger and Brian J. Smith Celia Kennan-Bolger and Brian J. Smith Photo: Michael J. Lutch

John Tiffany’s new Broadway revival of Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie is marvelous.  It sports a beyond perfect cast that includes Cherry Jones, Zachary Quinto, Celia Keenan-Bolger, and Brian J. Smith

The production is conventional by most standards.  There is nothing radical about it.  That doesn’t mean it’s boring.  Its strength is in its simplicity and strong performances.

What might not be conventional is Cherry Jones’s portrayal as the family matriarch, imagine Mama Rose as Amanda Wingfield.  Jones plays the role with a broad range of physical gestures that make her larger than life.  Unlike Mama Rose, Jones’s Amanda doesn’t want to live her life vicariously through her daughter.  Hers is a desperate woman remembering her own days of gentleman-callers and bad choices.  She wants more for her daughter and is desperate to leave her better than she has left herself. 

As the show’s narrator and older brother Tom, Zachary Quinto perfects the role’s sullen and moody tone.  Celia Keenan-Bolger hits the notes of timidity and joylessness perfectly.  She has adopted a minor physical tick that adds a nice touch to the character.  She sways back and forth from her one good foot to the other twisted appendage just ever so slightly. 

Perhaps the best performance in the production is given by Brian J. Smith as the gentleman caller, Jim O’Connor.  His efforts to communicate with Laura, and his attention to her are completely genuine.  He leaves you wishing that he was free to marry Laura.  He is just the type of man to look after the frail creature.   

Tiffany’s direction is magical.  He takes Williams’s memories and weaves them together with an accompaniment of talented artisans.  He has the cast making their entrances as though they were coming out of nowhere.  Further aiding this effect is scenic designer Bob Crowley who has placed a dining and living room set on a platform that appears to hover over a shimmering lake, lights occasionally twinkling in it.  A tall, fire escape ascends high above the stage to a vanishing point. 

The lighting design by Natasha Katz is as envisioned by Williams himself, dim with brighter areas of light focusing on the stage where the memory is taking place.  The incidental music by Nico Muhly seamlessly connects the scenes. 

All the pieces of this puzzle seamlessly connect into a coherent and emotionally touching production that must be seen before it is too late.  The production runs through February 23, 2014.

View full production credits at

Additional Info

  • Theatre: Booth Theatre
  • Theatre Address: 222 West 45th St. New York, NY 10036
  • Show Style: Play
  • Previews:: September 5, 2013
  • Opening Night: September 26, 2013
  • Closing: February 23, 2013
Last modified on Thursday, 09 July 2015 05:14