Founded by area high schoolers in 2002 and made up entirely of young people, Chapel Hill-based One Song Productions breathed new life into an American classic with their most recent effort, a March 10-12 production of The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams. We were enchanted by a line from the Director’s Notes in their program, in which they “stumbled across” this old chestnut of the stage that we take for granted and, moreover, they have found a freshness in the play that only youth can provide.
Insightful and very intentional directing is the keystone to this performance. Co-directors Bryna Loranger and Jax Preyer have given their cast support to find the hearts of their characters and the staging in which to express them. Their unjaded eyes have found the humor seldom seen in other productions, and the pacing and line delivery are precise and crisp.
Tennessee Williams’ 1944 Chicago and 1945 Broadway memory play tells the story of his mother, a broken women, lost in a world which has collapsed around her — a former debutante whose husband left her. Amanda’s son puts bread on the table for the family by working in a shoe factory, and her daughter is painfully shy and unlikely to catch a husband. The only drives left in Amanda’s life are for Tom and Laura to better themselves and improve her bare existence.
Obviously well-rehearsed and with penetrating interpretation, Anastasia LeDuc manages Amanda’s long lines with vocal variety and pacing, excellent facial expressions, and meaningful gestures. Anna LeDuc’s Southern lilt is charming.
Tom Wingfield, Williams’ alter ego, is portrayed by Samuel Quinn Morris with a snazzily sardonic wit, and also facial expressions worthy of note. His long silent scene with Amanda is a virtual lesson in face acting. (The small black-box theater of Common Ground Theatre in Durham also provides the intimacy that the play requires.)
Laura is as fragile as her glass creatures as presented by Esmé Merritt-Dorosin is sweet and vulnerable with the Gentleman Caller, and beginning to blossom as he charms her.
Auguste Moore delivers “A Gentleman Caller” (Jim) as confident, sensitive, and a gentleman, with newly acquired ambition and a plan for his life.
One Song Productions has added a couple of dramatic nuances to the staging: “Fiddle in the Wings” by Hannah Rayala added dimension occasionally and Maddie Wiener’s projections pertinent to the circumstances added to the sense of memory.
Conor Mooney does triple tech work as master carpenter, master electrician, and light-board operator; and Austin Lord’s costumes are well chosen and appropriate for the era.
We have been raving about these young people for three years now, and this show ranks among their very best efforts. Once more we offer our suggestion that One Song Productions find the way to perform their shows for more than just one weekend. This kind of effort needs to be seen by a larger audience.
THE GLASS MENAGERIE (One Song Productions, March 10-12 at Common Ground Theatre in Durham).
SHOW: http://cgtheatre.com/events and https://www.facebook.com/events/1675602182708161/.
2015-16 SEASON: http://www.1songproductions.org/current-season.html.
PRESENTER: http://www.1songproductions.org/, https://www.facebook.com/pages/One-Song-Productions/136779861220, and https://twitter.com/onesongtheatre.
VENUE: http://www.cgtheatre.com/, https://www.facebook.com/cgtheatre, and https://twitter.com/CGTheatre919.
The Glass Menagerie (1944 Chicago and 1945 Broadway memory play): http://www.dramatists.com/cgi-bin/db/single.asp?key=1813 (Dramatists Play Service, Inc.), http://www.ibdb.com/show.php?ID=3932 (Internet Broadway Database), and http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0042509/ (Internet Movie Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Glass_Menagerie (Wikipedia).
The Script: http://books.google.com/ (Google Books).
Study Guide: http://www.bard.org/study-guides/the-glass-menagerie-study-guide (Utah Shakespeare Festival).
Thomas Lanier “Tennessee” Williams III (playwright, 1911-83): http://www.olemiss.edu/mwp/dir/williams_tennessee/index.html (University of Mississippi English Department’s Mississippi Writers Page), http://ibdb.com/person.php?id=8822 (Internet Broadway Database), and http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0931783/ (Internet Movie Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tennessee_Williams (Wikipedia).
Bryna Loranger (co-director): https://www.facebook.com/bryna.loranger (Facebook page).
Jax Preyer (co-director): https://www.facebook.com/jax.preyer (Facebook page).
Martha Keravuori is a life-long theater artist — an actress, director, and stage manager — in North Carolina, around the country, and overseas. She has a theater degree from UNC-Greensboro, and has been active in the arts in Raleigh for the past 40 years. Martha is the retired executive director of the North Carolina Theatre Conference. Chuck Galle returned to Raleigh last year after a 17-year absence. He was active in community theater for many years, and directed the troupe of maximum-security inmates at Raleigh’s Central Prison known as the Central Prison Players. In New England, he performed on stage, on TV, and in films. He is the author of Stories I Never Told My Daughter — An Odyssey, which can be ordered on his website: http://www.chuckgalle.com/. Chuck Galle and Martha Keravuori review theater for Boom! Magazine of Cary. Click here to read more of their reviews for Boom! Magazine and here to read more of their reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.