Over the years I've seen a number of productions of The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams, and they've varied in degrees of appeal greatly. There's even another production from another local company scheduled later this month. There's a reason; it's a classic. This play, based on the author's short story "Portrait of a Girl in Glass", can be a unique, involving experience in the hands of the right actors and director. Thankfully, Dramatic License Productions has put together a terrifically engaging presentation that's really true to its source, lyrical and magical, with the additions of a series of projections that set the mood by hinting at each scene's essence. It's a clever device, and with four very solid performances, this makes for a great combination that's very worth of your attention and time.
This is the story of four people, told as a memory, a recollection realized in moody shades of gray(which is atmospherically lit by Max Parilla). There's Tom Wingfield (an excellent, sensitive performance by Antonio Rodriguez), the narrator, telling this story about his family in 1938. There's his over-bearing mother, Amanda (a superb Kim Furlow). There's his slightly lame sister Laura (a frail Macia Noorman), who seems to be in a dream world of her own creation, constantly playing the same old records and obsessed with her glass menagerie. Then there's, the "gentleman caller", Jim O'Connor (nicely played by Tom Lehman), who's invited for dinner by Tom, who's unaware that Jim was the secret love of his sister's life, and that Jim is, well, otherwise engaged. There's also the portrait on the wall of the father who left them all behind, he's truly a fifth character by his size and involvement. It's all the set up for a grand finale, and in the hands of these players it works to perfection.
Bill Whitaker's direction is sharply conceived and executed, with ample aid from the projections of Michael Perkins, and the sound choices for underscoring by Joseph Pini. Courtney Sanazaro-Sloey's scenic design is simple and smart, taking full advantage of the confines of the venue, and Jane Sullivan's costume are a perfect period fit for the play.
Dramatic License Productions has put together a superior production of The Glass Menagerie, and it continues in the ARTopolis at Chesterfield Mall through March 18, 2012.