The casting is a major coup for the sapling Equity troupe in Shreveport, the only resident union theatre in the northern part of the state.
Artistic director Patric McWilliams told Playbill.com that the actress known for Broadway's A Chorus Line (for which she won a Best Actress Tony) and State Fair will play the faded Southern belle opposite Los Angeles actor Logan Sledge as son Tom Wingfield.
McWilliams will direct the Tennessee Williams play at Shreveport's Strand Theatre, the home of River City Rep. Performances will run May 3-12.
The director said he contacted McKechnie through friends and colleagues; he had heard Amanda was a role she wanted to play one day.
"She's been very generous and warm with us," McWilliams said. "We're looking forward to it." The Glass Menagerie will conclude the company's 2006-07 season, and a new slate begins in October.
The creative team also includes set designer Andrew Greenhut and composer/sound designer Kermit Poling. McWilliams will design the costumes.
River City Rep began in spring 2006 and operates under an Equity guest artist contract. The goal, McWilliams said, is to work under an Equity Small Professional Theatre contract by fall 2007, when the new season begins.
Additional casting and creative team for The Glass Menagerie will be announced.
The Strand is the 1924 downtown Shreveport house where touring companies usually play. Per the agreement with Equity, only 350 of the 1,500 seats will be sold for River City Rep runs.
A one-weekend run of A Little Night Music was a hit for the company Jan. 4-7.
That shortness of that run represented the troupe's effort to take baby steps in its first season. The Chicago office of Actors' Equity was thrilled that a new union company was forming, McWilliams said, but gave the advice to start slowly — to walk before running — so that the business could take root.
The not-for-profit River City Rep bills itself as North Louisiana's only Equity-affiliated theatre. McWilliams pointed out that there are seven amateur groups operating in the Shreveport-Bossier area.
McWilliams, a New Yorker who taught theatre at his Louisiana alma mater, nearby Centenary College, for 25 years, came up with the idea of the resident theatre after he left the college in 2005. He discussed the idea with his friends and colleagues in the area, and they all carried the idea forward. River City Rep has a governing board, but no managing director yet. That's a priority, McWilliams said.
McWilliams splits his time between New York, Louisiana and freelance design and directing jobs around the country.
River City Rep's inaugural production in June 2006 was Lillian Hellman's Southern-set The Little Foxes, and it was a hit that prompted financial support from the community.
"Checkbooks really opened up," McWilliams said.
The troupe is not yet supported by government grants, but has received donations from residents and grants from businesses. A recent fundraiser performance of The Women also brought in money.
McWilliams said he expects the company to continue to strengthen and expand and bring on staff members. Future goals include a permanent home, and regular multi-show seasons, just like professional regional theatres around the country.
For more information about River City Rep, visit www.rivercityrep.org.