Review: The University Players’ Production of “The Glass Menagerie”

ANTHONY RUBINICH
Art and Life Correspondent

The University Players’ production of Tennessee Williams’ iconic play, “The Glass Menagerie,” shows how little is needed to yield a captivating performance.

The Players wrapped up their opening weekend with shows on Sept. 22-24, and continue this upcoming weekend on Sept 29-Oct 1. The show begins at 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and begin on Sundays at 2 p.m.

“The Glass Menagerie” tells the story of the Wingfield’s, a dysfunctional family in 1940s St. Louis. The play is told from the point of view of Tom Wingfield, played by senior Conor Hurley. The mother, Amanda, played by Ali Basalyga, is an overbearing, faded Southern belle whose husband left 15 years before the events of the play.

Amanda is taken care of by her two adult children, Tom and Laura – played by Victoria Pennington. Tom is unhappy with his life, contending that it lacks adventure. Laura is handicapped with a limp and horribly shy. Alone, she passes her time playing the Victrola – a type of record player – and rearranging the pieces of her glass animal collection.

Tom wants to leave like his father, but Amanda would not let him until they find a suitor for Laura. In the play’s final act, Tom brings one of his coworkers named Jim to dinner one night. Jim is played by Nicolas Gangone.

All in all, the acting was sufficient and believable. The last five minutes see some of the Players’ best work. A histrionic Amanda curses Tom over his failures, “Go to the moon, you selfish dreamer!” As Tom descends the fire escape for the last time, the tears on Laura’s face are real; they deliver their desired effect.

The Players did a very good job with the set design. All the tools and key props particular to the Williams’ masterpiece were in place; the father’s picture and glass collection are almost always in the audience’s view. Because the play is based on Tom’s memory, the lighting is low and accompanied by soft 40’s era music, purposefully done to evoke feelings of nostalgia and illusion. All in all, it was a good weekend for the University Players.

After Saturday’s showing, theatre program director Hank Willenbrink presented senior Conor Hurley with the Michael B. Bagdzinski Memorial Scholarship. Established by Michael’s family and friends, the award is given to theater students who exemplify qualities of loyalty, dedication and theatrical talent, values that Bagdzinski possessed.

Be sure to catch the final weekend of the University Players’ production of “The Glass Menagerie” Sept. 29–Oct 1. Tickets are free for first-year students, $10 for adults and $7 for upperclassmen, faculty and staff.

One Comment

  • the conscientious theatergoer says:

    Thank you so much for this book report on The Glass Menagerie. There are a few mistakes though. The father has been gone for 16 years. Now that I would say could just be a honest mistake. We all miss hear things now and again. But, if you actually payed attention or saw the show in the first place; you would know that Amanda was not being taken care of by her children. You could make an argument that Tom MIGHT be taking care of her, but that is a stretch. There is no way any of what Laura does could be seen as her taking care of her mother. That poor girl could barely take care of herself. While it was referred to as Laura having a clump, Victoria never actual limps on stage.

    Regardless of the factual errors, there is no review here. Its just a conglomerate of sometimes true facts and “I do not know how to form educated opinions” opinions. It would be better if the writer were to say they thought the actors should never attempt to act again, rather than “the acting was sufficient and believable”. What does sufficient acting mean? That like saying a meal was filling after someone asked if their cooking was good. Also what are the desired affect of tears. Please be more specific, tears can mean a variety of things. Did her long lost puppy return home? Was she told a very funny joke? Did she actually hate her brother and they were tears of relief that he left? I’m sure the actors would prefer genuine criticism of this handholding, “review”.

    All in all, I would guess that writer of this article did not actually see the show and had to turn this in anyway. Or if they did see the show they were not paying attention for most of it. So please if you are going to write a review do it right. Otherwise do not bother. Its useless to basically write what it says on the back of the script. This article was INSUFFICIENT and the thought that the writer actually saw/payed attention to the production is UNBELIEVABLE.

    P.S. The Player’s do none of the design for the show. All design is done by guests artists and they deserve the credit for their hard work. So please do the right thing and look at the program give to you.

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