Williams' Famed Memory Play, Illuminated by Projections, Opens in KC; Cromer Directs Menagerie

News   Williams' Famed Memory Play, Illuminated by Projections, Opens in KC; Cromer Directs Menagerie
Acclaimed American director David Cromer, whose stagings of Adding Machine and Our Town were embraced by critics, brings his unique sensibility to Kansas City Repertory Theatre for its new production of Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie, opening Jan. 16 after previews from Jan. 9.
David Cromer
David Cromer

Cromer's production of the famed memory play takes cues from an early draft by Williams that indicated the use of projections. This version is rarely used, and Cromer has built upon it by adding film projections onto screens.


Williams' autobiographical drama is the St. Louis-set story of the Wingfield family, led by a faded Southern belle, Amanda. Frustrated son Tom narrates the tale of his sister Laura's fragility — and his wish to escape, as his father had before him.

According to KC Rep, "At the time of its 1945 New York premiere, The Glass Menagerie was considered highly controversial. Williams had the bold idea of using screens and projections on stage to help establish a framework for his character's memories… Despite the playwright's intentions, however, the projections were omitted from the original Broadway production and even today they are rarely used. Cromer uses Williams' ideas as a creative tool to retell the familiar story in a compelling new way.

"The set for the Rep's production is designed for four cameras to be placed around the stage, projecting videos and real-time images of the actors onto strategically placed screens. The use of 21st-century technology brings the story to life and, at the same time, restores it to what Williams' imagined The Glass Menagerie could be." The cast of The Glass Menagerie includes Annalee Jefferies (Amanda), Derek Hasenstab (Tom), Susan Bennett (Laura) and the Rep's assistant artistic director, Kyle Hatley (Jim).

Cromer's 2008 Chicago production of Thornton Wilder's Our Town, in a stripped-down performing space that mingles actor and audience, will make its New York City premiere in February at the Barrow Street Theatre. Cromer himself will play the Stage Manager.

Following the Chicago run of his visually arresting staging of the musical Adding Machine, by Josh Schmidt and Jason Loewith, his Off-Broadway run won multiple awards in 2008. He also directed Off-Broadway's award-winning Orson's Shadow.

His Glass Menagerie creative team includes Collette Pollard (set design), Janice Pytel (costume design), Jeffrey Cady (lighting design, projection design) and Josh Schmidt (sound design).

The Glass Menagerie continues to Feb. 8 at Copaken Stage in Kansas City, MO. Eric Rosen is artistic director of Kansas City Rep.

For more information visit kcrep.org.

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