McKechnie Is Faded Southern Belle in Louisiana Glass Menagerie, Opening May 17

News   McKechnie Is Faded Southern Belle in Louisiana Glass Menagerie, Opening May 17 River City Repertory Theatre in Shreveport, LA, opens its revival of Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie — starring Tony Award winner Donna McKechnie as Amanda — May 17 on a thrust stage at the Scottish Rite Temple.

Performances of the American classic about a domineering former belle, her salty son and fragile daughter arrive two weeks later than expected: The venue and dates were changed due to needed air-conditioning repairs at the Strand Theatre in Shreveport, where the young Equity company previously presented plays. While that work is ongoing, the troupers moved to the more intimate Scottish Rite venue, a masonic building.

The seven-performance run featuring A Chorus Line vet McKechnie plays through May 25, and ticket sales are brisk, said artistic director Patric McWilliams, who also directs the play.

The Glass Menagerie also features Logan Sledge as Tom, Ellen Lindsay as Laura and Youree McBride as The Gentleman Caller.

The casting of McKechnie (a Best Actress Tony winner who played Cassie in the original A Chorus Line) is a major coup for the sapling Equity troupe in Shreveport, the only resident union-affiliated theatre in the northern part of the state.

The creative team also includes composer/sound designer Kermit Poling, lighting designer Tristan Decker and set and costume designer McWilliams. For reservations, call (318) 424-6805 or visit www.rivercityrep.org.

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The director said he contacted McKechnie through friends and colleagues; he had heard Amanda was a role she wanted to play one day.

The Glass Menagerie will conclude the company's 2006-07 season, and a new slate begins in October.

With this production of The Glass Menagerie, River City Rep will institute the "Southern Theatre Series." Each year the company will explore a classic play written by a Southern writer or a play "firmly situated in the Southern mystique." Lillian Hellman's The Little Foxes was a 2006 title for the troupe. Plays by Williams, Hellman, Beth Henley, Lanford Wilson, Carson McCullers and new writers will be represented.

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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.

A one-weekend run of A Little Night Music was a hit for the company Jan. 4-7, 2007.

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.

McWilliams splits his time between New York, Louisiana and freelance design and directing jobs around the country.

For more information about River City Rep, visit www.rivercityrep.org.