Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Broadway Theater Review: The Glass Menagerie with Sally Field


Sally Field, Finn Wittrock, and Madison Ferris. Photo: Julieta Cervantes



The Glass Menagerie
By Tennessee Williams
Directed by Sam Gold
The Belasco Theatre

By Lauren Yarger
What's It All About?
A revival of the off-produced play by Tennessee Williams, this one starring Sally Field as Amanda Wingfield and Joe Mantello as her son, Tom. Director Sam Gold casts Finn Wittrock as Jim O'Connor, the gentleman caller who is set up to meet Toms shy sister, Laura (Madison Ferris, who is making her Broadway debut). Gold brings his design team from his acclaimed production of the play in Amsterdam.

What Are the Highlights?
Mantello gives a solid performance. Wittrock brings an interesting take to the gentleman caller -- almost a clueless jock instead of an insensitive successful man. It makes him much more interesting than usual -- an accomplishment since this is the seventh Broadway revival of the play.

What Are the Lowlights?
Fields' Amanda comes off as mentally challenged rather than manipulative and dominating. Her daughter, who is supposed to be painfully shy and retiring, seems to be the one who has her act together. Perhaps this is because we see her courage -- Ferris has muscular dystrophy in real life and Gold makes sure we see how difficult it is for her to climb up steps (she has to take them sitting) to the stage and to get in and our of her wheelchair, though a good deal of this takes place below the audience's sight lines.. She plays a bold young woman. The result, unfortunately, is to change the character of Laura, who is supposed to have a limp so minor that it is imperceptible to others even as Laura's self image is shaped by what feels to her as a an obvious defect.  It's kind of hard to miss the wheelchair and the severity of her physical needs making Amanda's denial that they are an issue -- and Jim's inability to recall her from their high school years -- a bit absurd. Also, Laura is supposed to be older than Tom, but she clearly is not, making more dialogue seem out of place. Field, at 77,  is old enough to be Mantello's mother, but looks so terrific that this relationship is hard to buy too.

The set by Andrew Lieberman is practically bare; costume designs by Woiceich Dziedzic add to the thought that Amanda must be mad (see the frock she wears below) and Adam Silverman's Lighting Design leaves the house lights up for a long time at the beginning of the play and later leaves us in the dark so much that we feel we are experiencing a blackout in the theater rather than in the Wingfield home when Tom fails to pay the electric bill.

More Information:
The Glass Menagerie plays at the Belasco Theatre, 111 West 44th St., NYC. glassmenagerieonbroadway.com

Additional credit:
Bray Poor (Sound Design).

FAMILY-FRIENDLY FACTORS:
-- Language

Sally Field, Finn Wittrock, and Madison Ferris. Photo: Julieta Cervantes

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Our reviews are professional reviews written without a religious bias. At the end of them, you can find a listing of language, content or theological issues that Christians might want to know about when deciding which shows to see.

** Mature indicates that the show has posted an advisory because of content. Usually this means I would recommend no one under the age of 16 attend.

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

My Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the 2000 Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

She was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater (the only ones you can find in the US with an added Christian perspective) at http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com/.

She is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (http://ctarts.blogspot.com), an award-winning website featuring theater and arts news for the state. She is a contributing editor for BroadwayWorld.com and is a theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer. She previously served as Connecticut theater editor for CurtainUp.com and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web.

Yarger is a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly and freelances for other sites. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

She is a freelance writer and playwright and member of The Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association and The League of Professional Theatre Women. She served as a judge for the SDX Awards presented by the Society of Professional Journalists. She also is a member of the Connecticut Critics Circle and the CT Press Club.

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger also worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and served for nine years as the Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. She lives with her husband in West Granby, CT. They have two adult children.

Copyright

All material is copyright 2008- 2017 by Lauren Yarger. Reviews and articles may not be reprinted without permission. Contact reflectionsinthelight@gmail.com

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Key to Content Notes:

God's name taken in vain -- means God or Jesus is used in dialogue without speaking directly to or about them.

Language -- means some curse words are used. "Minor" usually means the words are not too strong or that it only occurs once or twice throughout the show.

Strong Language -- means some of the more heavy duty curse words are used.

Nudity -- means a man or woman's backside, a man's lower front or a woman's front are revealed.

Scantily clad -- means actors' private areas are technically covered, but I can see a lot of them.

Sexual Language -- means the dialogue contains sexually explicit language but there's no action.

Sexual Activity -- means a man and woman are performing sexual acts.

Adultery -- Means a married man or woman is involved sexually with someone besides their spouse. If this is depicted with sexual acts on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Sex Outside of Marriage -- means a man and woman are involved sexually without being married. If this is depicted sexually on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Homosexuality -- means this is in the show, but not physically depicted.

Homosexual activity -- means two persons of the same sex are embracing/kissing. If they do more than that, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Cross Dresser -- Means someone is dressing as the opposite sex. If they do more than that on stage the listing would include the corresponding "sexual activity" and/or "homosexual activity" as well.

Cross Gender -- A man is playing a female part or a woman is playing a man's part.

Suggestive Dancing -- means dancing contains sexually suggestive moves.

Derogatory (category added Fall 2012) Language or circumstances where women are referred to or treated in a negative and demeaning manner.

Other content matters such as torture, suicide or rape will be noted, with details revealed only as necessary in the review itself.

The term "throughout" added to any of the above means it happens many times throughout the show.

Reviewing Policy

I receive free seats to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows made available to all voting members of the Outer Critics Circle and The Drama Desk, the two professional critics organizations with journalists covering NY theater. Journalistically, I provide an unbiased review and am under no obligation to make positive statements. Sometimes shows do not make tickets available to reviewers. If these are shows my readers want to know about (I review all Broadway shows and pertinent Off-Broadway shows), I will purchase a ticket. If a personal friend is involved in a production, I'll let you know, but it won't influence a review. If I feel there is a conflict, I won't review their portion of the production.

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