A Noise Within (ANW), California’s acclaimed classic repertory theatre, is proud to present the play that made Tennessee Williams a household name, The Glass Menagerie. ANW Producing Artistic Director Geoff Elliott will direct the great American play that made its debut in Chicago in 1944 and a year later earned Williams the New York Drama Critic’s
Circle Award when it moved to Broadway. The Glass Menagerie begins previews this Sunday, Feb. 24 and will run through April 26.
In The Glass Menagerie, an innocuous visit from a potential suitor unsettles the sheltered Wingfield family. Matriarch Amanda fiercely protects her adult children from the harshness of others, but doesn’t realize that her own eccentricities are the biggest threat to their psychological survival. Brimming with poetic language and indelible characters, this play about the enduring but limiting nature of love and family is an autobiographical account of Williams’ life growing up in St. Louis, Mo.
“The Glass Menagerie’s poetic nature, its humor, and its heartbreak make it one of my favorite plays, and certainly my favorite Tennessee Williams play,” said Geoff Elliott. “The autobiographical nature of the story and its alignment to Williams’ own life are fascinating to me. I have for several years been passionate about re-discovering the play more from a director’s perspective than from the viewpoint of an actor in the cast as I played Tom Wingfield in our previous production.”
The Glass Menagerie was first produced by A Noise Within during its 1997-98 season with Julia Rodriguez-Elliott directing, Geoff Elliott narrating as Tom Wingfield, and Deborah Strang as the authoritative and stubborn matriarch Amanda Wingfield. Four of ANW’s Resident Artists have been selected as part of the intimate cast of the 2019 production with Deborah Strang returning as Amanda Wingfield, Rafael Goldstein as Tom Wingfield, who is also the narrator of the play from whose memory the story is recalled, Erika Soto as Laura Wingfield, and Kasey Mahaffy as the gentleman caller, Jim O’Connor.
Geoff Elliott said, “As importantly, I want to share Deborah’s Amanda with audiences. She was wonderful 20 years ago, but probably too young. She is now the perfect age and her sensibilities as an artist and the life experience she has gained will combine to give our audiences a very special performance in this key role. Also, the other three actors in the production are three of my favorite performers in the world, so thus far it has been a joyful experience.”
Elliott continued, “I believe this production will have a sharper focus on the aftermath of such a difficult family dynamic. I am interested in where the family members end up and why. I believe a possible answer to that mystery will be more present in this production.”
Even though the times have drastically changed since the late 1930s setting of The Glass
Menagerie, Elliott still believes there is a lot to take away about human relationships from the classic Williams play. “I believe audiences will experience a deep sense of empathy for the courage, humor, and resolve that the Wingfields demonstrate in their attempt to support one another,” noted Elliott. “Their foibles and missteps are also so very human that I believe every member of the audience will see themselves in aspects of these complicated and conflicted people. It is a play that will stay with you long after you have exited the theatre.”
This powerful play connects deeply with the theme of ANW’s 2018-19 repertory season, “Let Me In,” which highlights the stories of characters who are considered outcasts. “This is a family clinging to the edges of society. They are true outsiders, struggling to survive and
thrive in a world that seems to have forgotten them, a world that seems to play by different rules. Societal pressures are so great that even a deep bond of love is not enough to keep the Wingfields from flying apart. As is often the case, there is no societal safety net to help snatch them from the brink of disaster,” explained Elliott.
Tickets for The Glass Menagerie start at $25 and are available at anoisewithin.org, by phone at 626-356-3121, and at the box office located at 3352 East Foothill Blvd. in Pasadena, Calif.