Bay Theatre Glass Menagerie Brilliant!

It’s time to see “The Glass Menagerie” again.

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There’s a reason they call a piece of literature “a classic”. No matter how many times you read a classic novel, poem, or play you learn something different. “The Glass Menagerie” is currently playing at The Bay Theatre Company in Annapolis through the month of March, and whether you’ve enjoyed previous play productions or one of the movie versions, it’s time to see it again.
First produced in 1944, “The Glass Menagerie” depicts a slice of time in the life of the Wingfield family. The three characters: mother, son, and daughter share a three-room apartment. They each have their means of escape. The mother, Amanda Wingfield–played brilliantly by Lucinda Merry-Browne, focuses on her social connections at the local Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) chapter and imagines her daughter will take on a career as a secretary/stenographer and then marry one of the handsome gentlemen callers lined up outside their apartment door.
Laura Wingfield– played skillfully by Kristen Calgaro, the painfully shy and crippled daughter, takes refuge from reality by listening to old records and tending her menagerie of tiny glass animals.
Son Tom– played by Ben Russo, finds his adventure after toiling long hours at the shoe factory to suppport the family, by constantly going to the movie theater, sitting through hours of double features and newsreels.
“Where are you going?” his mother constantly asks him. “The movies!” she repeats incredulously. “How can you spend so much time at the movies?”
In many respects, the role of Tom, who is both narrator and a pivotal member of the family, is the most challanging to create and Russo does an admirable job. Struggling to fulfill his mother’s expectations that he continue on as the selfless breadwinner replacing his absent father, he dreams of escaping from her smothering grasp by joining the Merchant Marine.
This is a play with many memorable lines. Here’s one of my favorites. “Rise and Shine. Rise and Shine,” calls out Amanda in her artificially cheery voice.
“I’ll rise,” says Tom. “But I won’t shine!” he tells her and the audience. The first time I read the play, over 25 years ago, my focus was on Laura and her inability to leave the dreamworld she had created. This time after seeing various versions of the play over the years, the tug and pull between Tom and Amanda demanded most of my attention.
Hope seems within reach, with the arrival of an actual “gentleman caller”– played suavely by Judson Davis, but the hope in short lived. Such an easy solution to solve the family problems is not obtainable when the strategy is based on a fantasy perpetuated by Amanda.
A few choice items: the old phonograph, rotary telephone, and photograph of the absent father on the wall, create the sense of place in this intimate theater, along with the sounds of the old records playing intermitantly in the background at strategic times.The fire escape stairs and the shelf of glass creatures that reside in Laura’s glass menagerie complete the set designed by Dave Buckler. Nancy Robillard came down from New York City to direct this third production of the Bay Theatre 2007-2008 season, and she describes her experience as, “a beautiful dream!” While the subject matter of the play is sad, the manner in which it is depicted is thought provoking. Thus, its popularity has endured.
Playwright Tennessee Williams, born in 1911 and the son of a shoe saleman, clearly drew heavily on his own life when penning “The Glass Menagerie”. His older sister Rose, was diagnosed with mental illness and ultimately became institutionalized after undergoing a lobotomy in 1938.
For information about tickets and performance times the theatre can be reached at 410-268-1333, email reserve@baytheatre.org. Their web site is http://www.baytheatre.org
Want to find out about other live theater performances in Annapolis, Baltimore, Washington D.C., and on Maryland’s Eastern Shore? Read the lastest issue of
What’s Up? Annapolis or What’s Up? Eastern Shore

Author: Nadja Maril

Nadja Maril is a communications professional who has over 10 years experience as a magazine editor. A writer and journalist, Maril is the author of several books including: "American Lighting 1840-1940", "Antique Lamp Buyer's Guide", "Me, Molly Midnight; the Artist's Cat", and "Runaway, Molly Midnight; the Artist's Cat". Currently in the Stoneooast MFA writing program (University of Southern Maine), genre literary fiction. Former Editor-in-Chief of What's Up ? Publishing, in charge of three magazines: "What's Up? Annapolis", "What's Up? Eastern Shore", and "What's Up? Weddings", former Editor of Chesapeake Taste Magazine a regional lifestyle magazine based in Annapolis, and former Lighting Editor of Victorian Homes Magazine, Maril has written hundreds of newspaper and magazines articles on a variety of subjects..

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