Parkway Playhouse has made an unofficial tradition of ending its Mainstage Seasons by producing work that is read or studied in the classroom. A fitting tradition, since the start of the school year overlaps with the conclusion Parkway’s May-September Mainstage Season. In recent years, students have seen A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Romeo and Juliet; both staples of reading lists, syllabi, and curriculum through the nation. This fall, Parkway Playhouse will present Tennessee Williams’ American masterpiece The Glass Menagerie. The production opens September 19 and runs through October 3 at the historic Parkway Playhouse theatre, located at 202 Green Mountain Drive in Burnsville, NC. Curtain times are 7:30pm on Fridays and Saturdays and 3:00pm on Sundays. There will be a complimentary opening night reception for all patrons attending the September 19 performance. A post-show discussion with the cast is scheduled after each Sunday afternoon performance.
“This is a play many people read in school or college” commented Parkway Playhouse Artistic Director, Andrew Gall. “however, like all works of dramatic literature, they are meant to be seen on stage, not just read. Onstage, this play takes the audience on an amazing journey that has to deal with the quest for happiness and personal heartbreak. It is an American classic, and we are thrilled to be sharing this production with our audience.”
The Glass Menagerie portrays a family’s struggle to maintain the precarious balance between a difficult past and an uncertain future, exploring the bonds of family, the weight of memory, and the force of loss. The play is Williams’ bittersweet semi-autobiographical account of his coming of age in 1930’s St. Louis. It is told from the perspective of the playwright’s literary surrogate, Tom Wingfield, who serves as both narrator and the lens through which we experience the Wingfield’s plight. His dilemma forms the central conflict of the play as he faces the agonizing choice between responsibility for his family and living his own life. Tom’s tenuous relationships with his overbearing mother and his fragile sister is an emotionally charged portrait of hope that is timeless in its ability to capture the imagination and hearts of audiences.
The original Broadway production of The Glass Menagerie won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award in 1945 and has inspired two movie adaptations (one in 1950 starring Kirk Douglas and another in 1987 starring Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward), multiple radio and TV productions (including one 1973 TV adaptation starring Katharine Hepburn), and countless stage productions around the globe. The Glass Menagerie is undeniably one of the most important literary and dramatic accomplishments of the 20th Century, and it is an ageless testament to the power of hope and yearning.
Playwright Tennessee Williams, a treasure of the American theatre, was born in Columbus, Mississippi, in 1911. Born Thomas Lanier Williams III, he got the nickname Tennessee in college. His family life was turbulent, which reportedly inspired The Glass Menagerie. Buoyed by this success in 1945, Williams would go on to pen other classics of the American stage including A Streetcar Named Desire (1947), and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1955).
The Parkway Playhouse production is being directed by Scott Keel, a frequent Parkway Playhouse collaborator (appearing in Dancing At Lughnasa, A Few Good Men, Ghost Riders, A Christmas Carol, and Arcadia) and the Artistic Director of the venerated Montford Park Players in Asheville, NC. The cast features Western North Carolina actors and Parkway Playhouse veterans Alesa Bryant (Walking Across Egypt) as Amanda Wingfield, Iain Alexander (Arcadia) as Tom Wingfield, and Badi Mirheli (A Few Good Men) as the Gentleman Caller. Hanni Muerdter makes her Parkway Playhouse debut as Laura Wingfield.
Come see The Glass Menagerie at Parkway Playhouse September 19th-October 3rd!
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