Rep Stage, the professional Equity theatre in residence at Howard Community College (HCC), continues its 17th season with Tennessee Williams' classic, "The Glass Menagerie." Both profound and delicate, "The Glass Menagerie" deals with themes of love, loss, yearning, illusion and escape within the Wingfield family. Rep Stage's Producing Artistic Director, Michael Stebbins ("A Moon for the Misbegotten," "The Santaland Diaries," "A Dickens of a Carol"), directs Off Broadway, film, and television/commercial actress Tamara Johnson as Amanda Wingfield. Also featured in the cast are Christine Demuth, Karl Kippola, and Brandon McCoy. "The Glass Menagerie" opens February 3 and runs through February 28, 2010 in the Studio Theatre of the Horowitz Visual and Performing Arts Center (HVPA) on the campus of HCC.
A post-show reception follows the Sunday, February 7 matinee performance and free post-show discussions follow the February 12 and 19 performances.
Throughout the 2009-10 season, The Rep Stage Film Series, presented by HCC's Film Program, will offer free movie screenings in the Smith Theatre to complement the themes of the plays appearing onstage. "A Streetcar Named Desire" will be shown on February 16 at 7 p.m. and February 27 at 10 a.m.
Also complementing "The Glass Menagerie" will be a pre-show lecture on February 20 at, 12:30 p.m. Rep Stage's Reading Series will feature a reading of Tennessee Williams' "Eccentricities of a Nightingale" March 1 at 7 p.m. Both events are free and will take place in the Monteabaro RecitAl Hall.
"My interest and love of American theatre and its history led me to this play," said director Michael Stebbins. "In the case of ‘The Glass Menagerie,' you have the fact that it is one of the most exquisitely crafted plays that has ever been written. The relationships are rich, the conversation moves and one is immediately drawn into the world that Williams creates with the family dynamic. There is really something for everyone in this play and we are thrilled to be sharing it with Rep Stage audiences."
"The Glass Menagerie" first opened in December of 1944 at Chicago's Civic Theatre before moving to Broadway's Playhouse Theatre in March of 1945, where it ran for 563 performances. It tells the story of Tom Wingfield, an aspiring poet who toils in a shoe warehouse to support his mother, Amanda, and sister, Laura, since the father abandoned the family years prior. "The Glass Menagerie" is referred to as a "memory play" because the world of the Wingfields and "The Gentleman Caller" observed by the audience is actually the way that the son and narrator, Tom, remembers it. "Design plays a key role in a ‘memory' piece," Stebbins adds. "So I decided to use playwright Williams' actual notes on design as a guide."
Tennessee Williams is considered one of the greatest playwrights in American history. He was awarded four Drama Critic Circle Awards, two Pulitzer Prizes, a Tony Award and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, though he was often derided by critics and blacklisted by Roman Catholic Cardinal Spellman, who condemned one of his scripts as "revolting, deplorable, morally repellent, and offensive to Christian standards of decency." Williams' prolific body of work includes "A Streetcar Named Desire," "Camino Real," "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," "Orpheus Descending," "Summer and Smoke," "Sweet Bird of Youth," "The Eccentricities of a Nightingale," "The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Any More," "The Night of the Iguana," and "The Rose Tattoo." He died in New York City on February 25, 1983.
Michael Stebbins directs his fourth production at Rep Stage. In addition to directing, Stebbins is an accomplished actor and teacher as well as the producing artistic director of Rep Stage, a title he has held since November of 2005.
Christine Demuth (Laura) last appeared at Rep Stage as Catherine in "A Dickens of a Carol" and as Shelley in "Intelligence." Other credits include Antigone in Bertolt Brecht's "Antigone," Bianca in "The Taming of the Shrew," and " Macbeth" (Baltimore Shakespeare Festival); "Henry VI" and "Richard III" (Adirondack Shakespeare Company: Shakespeare IN THE RAW); " The Wild Duck" (Single Carrot Theatre), "The Awesome 80s Prom" (France Merrick Performing Arts Center); "Our Country's Good" (Promethean Theatre Ensemble).