Company Theatre's fall show is Tennessee Williams' American classic "The Glass Menagerie". The show first opened on Broadway on March 31, 1945 and ran for 563 performances. It was Williams' first successful play and seems to be more autobiographical than any of the others. The show is set in 1937, Williams would be Tom, his mother, Amanda and his mentally ill sister, Rose would be Laura whose nickname in the play is "Blue Roses", a result of an unfortunate bout of Pleurisy in high school. The show is written from the viewpoint of Tom, the narrator. He introduces the show as a memory play based on the recollection of his mother, a remnant of the faded Southern gentility, and her obsession with finding a suitor for his sister, Laura who spends her time with her glass animal collection who is as delicate and fragile as she is. Tom unhappily works in a warehouse and is driven to distraction by his mother's constant nagging. Amanda pressures Tom into bringing a gentleman caller from work home for Laura. Eventually the world of illusion that Amanda and Laura have striven to create in order to make life more bearable collapses around them and Tom leaves home never to return. However Tom still remembers his sister and regrets leaving her behind. One of Tom's last lines is "Blow out your candles, Laura" and the character does that bringing the show to its very poignant conclusion. Director Joseph C. Walsh casts the show wonderfully and the four talented performers deliver a touching, heartfelt rendition, leaving the audience shedding a tear or two along the way.
The gorgeous two story set, with raked dining set above the main stage living set is by Zoe Bradford and James Valentin. Sam Lathrop does a wonderful job as Tom. He delivers his monologues in the "supposed present day'' but Sam is a little too laid back some of the time during his narration sequences. However the argument dialogue scenes come through with more energy. After an argument with Amanda, he accidentally breaks some of Laura's glass animals, displaying his anguish at hurting his sister. It shows that although he still loves his sister, he still yearns for adventure. Sam's most tearjerking moment comes in the final scene when he delivers the emotional impact Williams' intended as a tribute to his sister, Rose. His last monologue will send chills up your spine. Carol Laing Stearns gives a powerful performance as Amanda who dreams of her past glory as a Southern belle in the Blue Mountains where she had 17 suitors pursuing her. She captures the larger than life persona as she runs roughshod over her children's lives. Her argument scenes with Tom are beautifully portrayed and especially powerful is the final one when Amanda tells Tom to go to the moon. Her Southern accent is topnotch and her "Rise and Shine" line garnered many laughs, too. Another comic moment is when she put "gay deceivers" in Laura's cleavage because she is flat chested. Her scenes with Jim are priceless as she plays the giddy Southern belle to the hilt. Carol sparkles in this role, playing the comic and tragic moments with Tom and Laura splendidly.
Erica Morris who is a beautiful blonde, plays the crippled Laura wonderfully. She cringes and hides from the real world into her glass menagerie world. Like that imaginary world, her world crumbles at her only attempt to entertain a suitor who is engaged to another girl. Erica becomes a tragic wallflower as Laura and remains trapped in St. Louis with her mother. Jacob Plummer who plays the Gentleman Caller, Jim O'Connor, is terrific onstage. Jim tries to help Laura look at the positive aspects of life which he learned in speaking class. His scenes with Amanda and Tom are energetically executed and he gives added dimension to the play. This show brings back many happy memories having directed for Warwick Players back in 1986. So for a trip back to when powerful American shows were written, be sure to catch the wonderful rendition of "The Glass Menagerie" at Company Theatre.