(Erik Satie Gymnopedie; Marchese and Naoumoff CD 7463)
Tennessee Williams’ classic "The Glass Menagerie" joins the Indiana State University SummerStage in a moving production directed by Arthur Feinsod. In what he called "a memory play," Williams dramatized the tensions in his own home and his bitterly won escape from it. In the ISU production, Susan Monts-Bologna is masterfully dominant as the complex Wingfield family’s mother, Amanda. In Monts-Bologna’s hands Amanda is loving and angry, tender and domineering, deeply sad and sometimes– quite funny.
Son Tom Wingfield is based on Williams himself. Tom is both the narrator and a character. As narrator Tom, Peter Papadopoulus was a figure of poignantly resigned irony. As character Tom, he was very much the frustrated, angry artist seeking to escape. Papadopoulus was sympathetic in both roles, though I did wish for a bit more difference and a bit more dramatic heft.
The painfully shy Wingfield daughter, Laura, was modeled on Tennessee Williams beloved sister, Rose. Laura is the literal proprietor of "The Glass Menagerie." She was played with a potent opacity by Andrea Renee Swift. Swift’s portrayal of Laura’s crippling fears and the crushing of her blossoming hopes was potent.
Brandon Wentz rounded out the cast as the much looked forward to "Gentleman Caller" in "The Glass Menagerie." Wentz was every bit the emptily smooth, slightly cruel, disappointed high school hero of Laura’s fantasies.
Linda Janosko’s depressingly dilapidated St. Louis apartment set both at the beginning and later with mother Amanda’s pathetic attempts to make it look cheerful was very much a character in the play. Sherry McFadden’s costumes from Tom’s dreary work clothes to the spiffy polish of the Gentleman Caller’s suit all looked fine. Her creation of Amanda’s party dress was quite a revelation. It drew brief surprised gasps and laughter. Tennessee Williams writes that "In memory everything seems to happen to music." And John Kundert-Gibbs’ sound design always supported and sometimes even punctuated the story.
The Indiana State University accomplished production of Tennessee Williams’ eloquent memory play, "The Glass Menagerie," is part of the SummerStage rotating repertoire.
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