Opening Night: Tennessee Williams The Glass Menagerie
By: Ellis Nassour
At the end of Scene Seven, late in Act Two, of Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie, Amanda Wingfeld (Cherry Jones), most unhappy with her son Tom (Zachary Quinto), says, "Where are you going?" He replies, "I’m going to the movies." In disgust she exclaims, "That’s right, now that you’ve had us make such fools of ourselves … Don’t think about us … Go to the moon – you selfish dreamer."
Tom doesn’t go to either, but actually much further. He turns to the audience and speaks of his journey and all the things, familiar and unfamiliar, he encountered – never forgetting his sister Laura he left behind. Tom: "… All at once my sister touches my shoulder. I turn around and look into her eyes." He has regrets, but has made peace with himself. His final three words are, "And so goodbye." Blackout.
Before the lights even came up on
the opening night bows, the 780 audience members were on their feet in a thunderous ovation. The cast returned to sustained applause, taking 11 bows with the four of them as one ensemble. Flowers were presented to Jones and Celia Keenan-Bolger, playing daughter Laura.
At the post-opening party, Quinto, who appeared Off Broadway in 2010 in Signature Theatre’s Angels in America: Perestroika and Angels in America: Millennium and is broadly known for his TV and film work, was making his Broadway debut. He spoke to how the cast had bonded and become a family since meeting at the first table read last December. "Actually, Cherry’s said it best. We’re like puppies in a box!"
Quinto, who’s been doing theater since age 10, reported that his foray West was "only a means to an end so that I could come back to New York and do theater, It’s my life! If I could make a living doing theater, I just might."
He told of how much he’d read to familiarize himself with Williams and his legacy, how he researched his family life and relationship with his mother Edwina and sister Rose, who suffered from mental illness. He says, "It seems that Tom in The Glass Menagerie, in many ways, is a distant personification of Tennessee Williams. It’s the most autobiographical character he wrote."
Of his Broadway debut: "It was an incredible, unbelievable night. Everything was fine onstage, and then, at the end, that ovation. There’s nothing like a Broadway opening."
Brian J. Smith, portraying The Gentleman Caller, his biggest role to date, said, "Any opening on Broadway is awesome, but this topped everything. To be cast by (director) John Tiffany for this role is an honor. It’s one of those roles that makes you a better actor and a better person."
He also revealed that he has something in common with The Glass Menagerie‘s Laura. As a kid he collected hundreds of plastic toy soldiers. Celia Keenan-Bolger revealed that her only collecting was saving all her movie and theatre stubs.
Jones, one of the last to arrive, was swamped and joyously overwhelmed by the media blitz. "John Tiffany has created a production that takes audiences a place they’ve never been before. It’s like they’re seeing The Glass Menagerie for the first time." She continually praised her cast, stating, "I’ve never been in better company. They’re awesome!" Speaking of collecting, she had a thing for small antique bronzes of animals.
Among those spotted at The Glass Menagerie opening: Sandra Bernhard, Eric Bogosian, John Ellison Conlee, Tyne Daly, Dana Delany, Harvey Firestein, Victor Garber, Jeff Goldblum, Carla Gugino, Mamie Gumer, Jessica Hecht, Megan Hilty, Marin Ireland, Andrew Keenan-Bolger [brother of Celia], Cassie Levy, Andrew McCarthy, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Leonard Nimoy, Steven Pasquale, Parker Posey, Will Swenson, Richard Thomas, and B.D. Wong; set and costume designer Bob Crowley; playwrights David Henry-Hwang, Tony Kushner, and Marsha Norman; and directors Doug Hughes, Pam McKinnon, Michael Mayer, Casey Nicholaw, and Diane Paulus.