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.