The Glass Menagerie

By Tennessee Williams

Directed by D. Scott Glasser

This poetic and complex drama, which was first produced in 1944, is Tennessee Williams' most autobiographical work and one of his greatest plays.

The Glass Menagerie is set in a shabby St. Louis tenement apartment occupied by Amanda Wingfield and her two adult children: shy, fragile Laura, and Tom, a restless, poetic soul trapped in a stifling factory job. Tom Wingfield narrates this self-described "memory play", revisiting a time when his family longs to escape their meager existence by creating idealized fantasy worlds. Amanda tries to rise above the family's depressed circumstances with the trappings of gentility and puts all of her hopes into the prospect of Laura marrying and lifting them out of poverty. But Laura is painfully shy and can't cope with the pressures of the outside world. She either spends her days alone in the park or tending to the glass figurines she collects.

Unwilling to give up the fight, Amanda cajoles Tom into finding Laura a gentleman caller and he brings home Jim O'Connor, a man he knew vaguely from high school and from his job at the shoe factory. Amanda turns childish in her delight over this new visitor, but Laura is so shy that she can't bring herself to the dinner table. The pressure of the moment shatters the family's illusory worlds and forces them to confront reality.

Following its Broadway premiere, The Glass Menagerie was voted Best Play of the year by the New York Drama Critics Circle. It was revived on Broadway in 1965 and again in 1983. The Glass Menagerie's richness lies in the language and relationships that Williams creates and the way in which Tom remembers his family through a gossamer filter of time.

Produced by The Rep

Presented at the Madison Civic Center in the Isthmus Playhouse.

Performances: April 12 &endash; May 5, 2002

Ticket prices are $30 for Friday and Saturday performances, and $24 for Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday performances. Tickets may be purchased at the Madison Civic Center ticket office, 211 State Street, or by phone at (608) 258-4141. For information on group sales, call Madison Rep at 256-0029 ext. 13.

Audience discussions will follow the 1:30 p.m. performance on Sunday, April 14 and the 7:30 p.m. performance on Thursday, April 24. These informal gatherings are an opportunity for the audience to meet the cast members and discuss the play. For more information about the play and its themes, read the audience guide on line at


The Director

Artistic Director D. Scott Glasser will direct, marking his final Madison Rep production before he steps down as artistic director in May. He has the position since 1993 and has directed more than 30 Rep productions. Glasser directed Madison Rep's production of A Streetcar Named Desire in 1992 and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof in 1997. Now he looks to score a hat trick with Williams' most personal work.

The Music

D. Scott Glasser said, "This production will be a uniquely evocative one in many ways, taking to heart Williams' original idea of an expressive interpretation that joins the audience's imagination with those of the characters. A key element is the haunting musical score composed for the Rep by Paul Boesing. It is a coup for the Rep that we have attracted the internationally renowned musician, Dennis James, to perform the score live at each performance."

Dennis James has dedicated himself to the revival of Benjamin Franklin's 18th century invention, the glass armonica. The glass armonica is made of hand-blown, finely tuned crystal bowls that are mounted on a spindle and then touched by the musician with wet fingers. The effect is a haunting and ethereal sound that will create an ideal aural backdrop for the play. James has appeared in concert halls throughout North America, Europe and Australia, and has established the instrument as a significant part of the international music scene. He has also played glass armonica on three of Linda Ronstadt's CDs and has recorded another album co-produced by Ms. Ronstadt, "Cristal: Glass Music through the Ages".

The Cast

The cast features Anne Newhall (Amanda), Bradford Farwell (Tom), Elisabeth Adwin (Laura), and Noah Brody (Jim). Newhall is a New York-based actress who has performed with the Roundabout Theatre, Manhattan Theatre Club, Circle Repertory Theatre, and Ensemble Studio Theatre. She recently acted in American Players Theatre's productions of Ring Round the Moon, Uncle Vanya, Richard II, As You Like It, and All's Well That Ends Well. Farwell played the title role in Nebraska Shakespeare Company's production of Hamlet under the direction of D. Scott Glasser. He has spent three seasons at the Stratford Festival in Ontario and has performed at American Players Theatre in She Stoops to Conquer and The Misanthrope. Adwin returns to the Rep after performing the role of Martirio in The House of Bernarda Alba last season. She has also performed with the Intiman Playhouse in Seattle, Ensemble Theatre Company in California, Portland Center Stage, Huntington Theatre, and New Repertory Theatre. Brody was last seen at the Rep as Lord Alfred Douglas in Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde. Recent credits include the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy radio plays at the Independence Theatre in New York, The Glass Menagerie and For Whom the Bell Tolls at the Hedgerow Theatre in Pennsylvania, and the independent film, Tears of a Clown.

The Design Team

The design team for The Glass Menagerie includes Frank Schneeberger, scenery; John G. Frautschy, lighting; William R. Black, costumes; and Jack Sayre, sound. Karen K. Wegner and Kevin A. Freeman are stage managers for the production

The Playwright

Tennessee Williams, born Thomas Lanier Williams, has had a deep impact on American theater since his first successful play, The Glass Menagerie (1944). Williams won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for A Streetcar Named Desire (1947) and for Cat on A Hot Tin Roof (1954). Both plays were made into successful motion pictures. His other plays include Summer and Smoke (1948), The Rose Tattoo (1951), Suddenly Last Summer (1958), Sweet Bird of Youth (1959), Night of the Iguana (1961), The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore (1963), and Small Craft Warnings (1972). His other works include the novel The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone (1950), two volumes of short stories, Hard Candy (1954) and Eight Mortal Ladies Possessed (1974), and an original screenplay, Baby Doll (1956).