Thursday, October 1, 2009

Broward Stage Door: The Glass Menagerie (3 reviews)

Broward Stage Door opened its production of The Glass Menagerie, the classic play by Tennessee Williams, on September 11, 2009.
...a drama of great tenderness, charm, and beauty that still resonates because it features some of Tennessee Williams' most unforgettable characters. Considered one of the greatest plays of the American Theatre, THE GLASS MENAGERIE is accounted by many to be an autobiographical play of Williams’ life.
Michael Leeds directed a cast that includes David Hemphill, Betsy Graver, Janet Weakly, and Nick Duckhart.

Mary Damiano reviewed for Miami Artzine:
...a handsome production of the Tennessee Williams classic...
Director Michael Leeds has done an excellent and imaginative job at breathing fresh life into a play we’ve seen before. The Glass Menagerie is a memory play—it takes place in Tom’s head—and Leeds reminds us of that every step of the way. He illustrates Tom Wingfield’s memories beautifully.
The talented design team adds to this richly nuanced production. The sound design by Martin Metts is haunting and eerie, with snippets of music and sounds drifting in and overlapping, punctuating the dialogue. The choice of music is evocative, and blends seamlessly with Ardean Landhuis’s subtle lighting.
Hemphill portrayal of Tom hits all the right notes. Tom is a complicated young man, and Hemphill layers his performance to illustrate the tortured soul beneath Tom’s sarcastic exterior.
Duckart does a sensitive yet dashing turn as Jim, while Graver does a good job with Laura’s paralyzing shyness.
This is a beautifully crafted production and should not be missed.
Comi Zervalis Neuburg reviewed for the ultra-mysterious Forum Publishing Group, which apparently is published as the Community Section of the Sun-Sentinel. Why these reviews are not posted in the Theatre section is something that only makes sense to the spittle-chinned Howard Greenberg. But anyway, here's the review:
Through simple staging, and a unique direction by Tony Award Nominee Michael Leeds, the Broward Stage Door Theatre in Coral Springs recreates William's intentions, more closely than many other productions that have used distracting special effects like misty veils to symbolize that the action springs from narrator Tom's memory.
Stage Door's interpretation more poignantly represents Tom's reverie by highlighting his separation from family with occasional period music and the understated drizzle of a lone jazzy sax. This adds an eerie quality to the monologues he delivers from a back alley and with the brogue of a hard-boiled detective.
Hemphill, whose reactions are always fresh, is spectacular as a raging, sardonic, yet sometimes acquiescing Tom Wingfield...
Weakly captures a healthy portion of the intrigue that is Amanda Wingfield.
Graver as Laura evokes a haunting, summoning pity with her convincingly awkward gait, twisted expressions and intonations of fragile innocence. Her reaction to gentleman caller Jim O'Connor, played stylishly by Nick Duckhart, is the turning point of this affecting masterpiece.
Ron Levitt reviewed for ENV Magazine:
It isn’t often that one sees one of the modern world’s most highly regarded plays whose dominant characters are women and comes home feeling that he has just witnessed two talented, up-and-coming male actors in South Florida.

This is by no means a slur on the two female stars in The Glass Menagerie currently at the Broward Stage Door theatre in Coral Springs. These women – a striking, powerful Janet Weakley and charmer Betsy Graver – are excellent as the mother/daughter in the Tennessee Williams drama. It’s just that recent New World School of the Arts alumni David Hemphill and Nick Duckhart are so dynamic in the challenging roles of the brother Tom and the gentleman caller respectively, it would be a disservice to ignore their characterizations. It is a pleasure to see two relatively unknown newcomers to the area’s theatre scene nail their characters so adeptly.
Director Michael Leeds uses his own sense of imagination in his Stage Door interpretation of the Williams’ classic. The set by the Broward Stage Door team is vintage 1930s. Williams’ characters are just as intense living in their fantasy worlds as they have been in earlier productions , yet, there is a sense of freshness and vitality to this staging. Perhaps it is the acting by four powerhouse performers which catches one’s attention. Of course, one has to respect a script whose every word drips with sensitivity and meaning. Yes, kudos to the playwright (naturally), but a truck-load of ovations to Director Leeds and the stunning cast.
When a theatre group produces a classic which seems new no matter how often you have seen it, then it is entitled to be called “fresh”. Calling a classic play “fresh,” is a well deserved term for this production as well as for its stars – including those two actors who get your attention...
The Glass Menagerie plays at the Stage Door Theatre through November 1, 2009.


  1. Last night I had the extreme good fortune of taking a group of college students to see The Glass Menagerie at Broward Stage Door. I have never been to stage door since they went non-union and have (like many in the community) just dismissed them as cheap musical fluff not to be thought of with the Gablestages and Palm Beach Drama Works of the community. Last Night I was completely wrong!
    The Glass Menagerie (which has been mostly un-reviewed and playing to 20 or less a night) might be best theatrical production this year. It is certainly the best directed piece of the year. It’s innovative, non-traditional, nuanced, charming, warm and possess a couple of outstanding three dimensional performances. I left the theater so frustrated for the poor actors in it who performed for a dozen paid audiences member. This production should not be ignored. I don’t care for the stage door as a theater entity or its history but truly fine theater should not be missed. It is a shame to miss this production.
    Thank you
    John Manzelli

  2. Thank you for the input, John. I will add that I found some tweets from last week that spoke very highly of it, and from people who know good theater when they see it.

  3. Why is no one reviewing this show? I've heard such good things about it.