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ICT Revisits THE GLASS MENAGERIE

ICT Revisits THE GLASS MENAGERIE

"Glass breaks so easily. No matter how careful you are." International City Theatre presents The Glass Menagerie, the iconic American classic that launched the career of playwright Tennessee Williams. John Henry Davis (ICT Productions of A Walk in the Woods, End of the Rainbow, Trying) directs William's most personal work, opening Aug. 24 atInternational City Theatre in the Long Beach Performing Arts Center. Two low-priced previews take place Aug. 22 and Aug. 23.

Set in 1935, The Glass Menagerie centers on the Wingfield family who live together in a cramped St. Louis flat, abandoned by Wingfield senior years earlier.Burt Grinstead (Hit the Wall at the Los Angeles LGBT Center; Creditors, The New American Theatre at the Odyssey) stars as Tom, the play's narrator, now the breadwinner, who works at a dreary shoe factory warehouse during the day, but slips away nightly to the movies. Jennifer Parsons (ICT Productions of Silent Sky and Vanya and Sonya and Masha and Spike) plays Amanda, a faded Southern Belle who tries to be a caring mother, but whose meddling and nagging are difficult for her adult children to take. Lizzie Zerebko (You Can't Take It With You at Antaeus Theatre Company) is Tom's sister, Laura, a shy, frightened young woman with fragile nerves and a lame leg; she seldom leaves the apartment, instead busying herself with her "glass menagerie" of miniature animals. Rounding out the cast is Emilio Garcia-Sanchez (Tenn, directed by James Franco) as Jim O'Connor, Tom's co-worker from The Warehouse, and Laura's high school crush.

Williams' autobiographical "memory play" captures the fragility and stifled yearning of characters clinging to hope against the harsh realities of a rapidly changing world. Based on his own family, Williams depiction of the tragic circumstances that ultimately led to a life fraught with alcoholism, anger and regret is a drama of great tenderness, charm and beauty that has never lost its truthfulness or its impact.

"The world was undergoing tremendous upheaval in the '30s and '40s, and Williams was writing about the intense trauma experienced by his own family during that time," says Davis. "This first work of youthful genius throws a flash of illumination onto his fierce desire to escape his mother's control as well as his precious memory of his fragile sister. Williams reminds us, with humor and astonishing perception, how powerful family ties are, telling us we never can really escape them, no matter how hard we try."

The play began life as a short story: "Portrait of a Girl in Glass" was completed by Williams in 1943. Then, while working as a screenwriter for MGM in Hollywood, he rewrote the story into the unsuccessful script, The Gentleman Caller. Finally, in 1944 the work evolved into The Glass Menagerie. It premiered that year in Chicago, where it overcame a shaky start. Championed by critics whose enthusiasm helped build audiences, the producers moved the play to Broadway where it won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award. The triumph launched Williams' career - and what Williams later called "the catastrophe of success." It has since received numerous Broadway revivals with actors such as Piper Laurie, Maureen Stapleton, Jessica Tandy, Julie Harris and Jessica Lange in the role of Amanda. The 2013 revival starring Cherry Jones received seven Tony nominations.

ICT's creative team includes set designer Christopher Scott Murillo, lighting designer Stacy McKenney, costume designer Kim DeShazo, sound designer Corwin Evans, prop designers Patty and Gordon Briles, hair and wigs designer Anthony Gagliardi and casting director Michael Donovan. The production stage manager isVictoria A. Gathe, and caryn desai [sic] produces for International City Theatre.

The Glass Menagerie runs Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m., Aug. 24 through Sept. 9. Two preview performances take place onWednesday, Aug. 22 and Thursday, Aug. 23, both at 8 p.m. Tickets are $47 on Thursdays and Fridays, and $49 on Saturdays and Sundays, except for Aug. 24 (opening night) for which tickets are $55 and include a post-performance reception with the actors. Low-priced tickets to previews are $35.

International City Theatre is located in the Long Beach Performing Arts Center at 330 East Seaside Way in Long Beach, CA 90802. For reservations and information, call 562-436-4610 or go to InternationalCityTheatre.org.



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