It had been years since I’d heard the tragic words of Tennessee William’s The Glass Menagerie, or had I ever heard them? I know I read them in high school, and maybe there was perhaps a movie version?
No matter how I’d known the play before, Theatre 98 invited me to look in on their final dress rehearsal, and the powerful live stage version of the story left me weak and breathless for several reasons.
First of all, the real – life behind the scenes story of the local theatre company couldn’t have been more tragic if written by Williams himself. With only a week to go before opening night, the popular local actress who was to play the difficult lead role of Amanda, Danielle Juzan, suddenly died from a heart attack. Only in her mid fifties and seemingly in great health, it was a shock and total tragedy to the many people who knew and loved her.
At approximately the same time, another long-time volunteer of Theatre 98, Ron Smith, also passed away causing his partner, Timothy Guy, to have to back out of the role of Director. With no lead actress and no Director, the play’s future in Fairhope seemed uncertain.
The incredibly talented Robin Ann Page was mind-blowing as Amanda. Her years of professional experience in theatre, television and voice-over work enabled her to step into the role and if she missed one single word of her lines, I never noticed. Not only were her lines exact, but the delivery was crisp and spot-on. After only a week’s rehearsal time . . . allow me to repeat that . . . after only a week’s rehearsal time, Robin was the star. Someone told me she was from California, but honestly . . . I think she had the most authentic sounding Southern accent of the cast of natives! Go figure!
Jim Faust played the role of Tom Wingfield and made your heart break for this troubled family of the 1930’s. He kept reminding me of Alec Baldwin, but others said I just think about Alec Baldwin too much. If you’re in the area, go see the play for yourself and let me know what you think. Tom also had a load of lines to learn and was absolutely flawless.
The young sister Laura was played by Amanda McAdams who is majoring in Theatre at our local college, Faulkner State. Playing the painfully shy disabled daughter so well, I thought I would burst into tears if she didn’t get a grip and speak up for herself!
And quickly becoming one of my favorite local actors, was Ryan Peacock. His character’s optimistic attitude was a breath of fresh air to the story, and Ryan was completely convincing as the encouraging and dashing Jim O’Connor.
And who stepped in at the last moment to direct this emotionally dark, but moving play? None other than local theatre buff, Jon Robitaille. His experience and expertise led him to be a great leader under pressure.
If you are in our area for the next few weekends, be sure and grab a ticket to this play while they are still available. You’ll love the classic tale and a night of great creativity. Tennessee Williams beats the TV any day of the week!