Tennessee Williams’ classic tale of a southern American family is on stage at Curtain Call Theater.
The Glass Menagerie opened on Friday, Sept. 7, and actor Barbara Richards and director Cindy Brizzell-Bates said the show has gotten off to a great start.
`Audiences are really enjoying it and are responding to it,` said Richards, who is playing Amanda, the mother of two adult children living in St. Louis, Mo., during the Depression.
`Amanda is an iconic role,` Richards said of the character who, having been left by her husband, reverts back to her past, when `gentlemen callers` were the mark of success among southern belles. `She’s a southern belle imposing a way of life on her children.`
Richards said that the character of Amanda has been ridiculed, but she is working to make her a real character, not a caricature.
`I’ve gotten fond of her,` Richards said. `Age (Richards described herself as `50ish`) and having children helps with Amanda. Hopefully, I’m not that kind of mother!`
`Amanda nags her children to a point where it can be funny,` Brizzell-Bates said. `It will seem familiar to most people ` when you love the kids so much you drive them crazy.`
Amanda is bent on finding a gentleman caller for her painfully shy daughter, Laura, who has a slight limp, and is happy to spend time with her collection of glass animal figurines. Laura’s brother Tom is enlisted to find a suitor at the shoe factory where he works, and inadvertently brings home a past unrequited love of his sister’s.
`Amanda has the hope that most of us do, that everything will work out in the end, but life doesn’t always end up that way,` Brizzell-Bates said.
Brizzell-Bates, a graduate of Yale Drama School who teaches drama at Siena College and the University at Albany, said she has stuck with a traditional interpretation of `The Glass Menagerie.`
`We tried to stay faithful to what the text meant,` Brizzell-Bates said. `We explored the script for what it gave us.`
`This play is lyrical and has a lot to say,` Richards, who is an assistant curator of the Empire State Plaza Art Collection, said. `The story still resonates. It’s about a family and relationships, and loss.`
`It’s a beautiful portrait of a struggling family in the 1930s, Brizzell-Bates said. `It’s about people trying to connect, not doing it, and misfiring. Tom is trying to salvage some of his passion, to find his soul, but his sister’s life is connected to that soul.`
Although it sounds like heavy going, Brizzell-Bates and Richards said there are light moments in the play that was Williams’ first successful play.
`We were surprised at how much humor there was in it,` Brizzell-Bates said.
Richards and Brizzell-Bates are regulars at Curtain Call Theater.
`It’s an intimate theater and a great place to work,` Richards, who worked in New York City theater before moving to Albany 20 years ago, said. `The producers give us great opportunities with the shows.`
What will audiences like about `The Glass Menagerie?`
`It’s about hopes and dreams, and what we are willing to give to get our hopes and dreams,` Brizzell-Bates said.
`It will take people to another world,` Richards said. `We’ve got a nice, long run, and the play will get better and deeper.`
`The Glass Menagerie` will run until Saturday, Oct. 6. Performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Curtain Call Theatre is located at 210 Old Loudon Road in Latham.
Tickets are $20 each. Dinner at the Century House plus a ticket to the play is $42. For information or tickets, call 877-7529, or visit www.curtaincalltheatre.com.“