by Nancy Holley
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Drop into 1944, via Tennessee Williams’ classic drama, The Glass Menagerie and visit a time when war is ending, the economy is shaky, and a family is attempting to maintain relationships without understanding.
Director Richard Morrill sees the classic as a challenge for actors and a challenge for himself as director. “It is a powerful play with a subtle message. It is not a feel good show. It is real. If you don’t experience the pain, you will miss the joy of it.” Morrill has assembled a cast of talented and experienced actors to meet the challenges.
The mother, Amanda, is portrayed by Elizabeth LaMar, whose acting career began before she married her hero from The Bird Cage Theater at Knott’s Berry Farm. A move to Three Rivers led Elizabeth to participate in shows with the Three Rivers Players, COS, the League of Christian Actors, and the Visalia Players. Elizabeth loves The Glass Menagerie for the relationships between the characters. “They love each other; you know that; but they don’t know how to relate to each other, which I think is reflective of many relationships. She wants Laura to be outgoing and flirtatious, but Laura is shy. She thinks Tom is a dreamer. She wants him to better himself and take care of her.”
Having just completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) program at Cal State Fullerton, Brooke Rogers, the daughter of actors who met in the Players production of Godspell, was anxious for the role of daughter Laura. “It’s been my dream role since I was 18. I knew I could play the role. I have stuff in common with her. We are both frightened and aware of the effect that people can have on other people; we know the chain of reaction that could result.”
David Payne, hopeful of a BFA program placement when he leaves COS next year, fell in love with the part of Tom, Laura’s brother, “because I can relate to Tom through the sense of being trapped and unsure how to get out of a situation without hurting others.” Payne, frequently cast as comedic characters, is thrilled with an opportunity for a more dramatic role. “Tom loves his sister, but they aren’t extremely close. He tries to protect her because she’s different from other girls. She had a bum leg, but now that she’s no longer physically crippled, she’s mentally crippled.”
The gentleman caller, Jim (Nick Nino) works with Tom at the warehouse. Nino, a COS theatre major who recently completed a Bachelor of Arts in English from Riverside, came to auditions by chance. He ran into Brooke, whom he had known in high school, in Starbucks and the rest is history! Nino sees Jim as a “character who is a force of nature; who shakes up the house. Coming from Laura’s past, he is a sign of hope or renewal for Amanda—maybe able to save what is breaking or decaying.”The actors and director find the show very relatable. LaMar commented that it shows how “we don’t really see people for who they are but for what we want them to be.” Rogers emphasized, “It is so real. You will love these characters; you will want to smack them; you will want to be involved in these people’s lives. It is very exciting as an actor and audience member to see these characters come to life. Tom is the starving artist; Amada is so big and out there; Jim is the romantic hero; and Laura is the damsel in distress.”
The Glass Menagerie opens at the Ice House Theater at Race and Santa Fe in Visalia at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, August 16, 2013 and runs for three weekends with evening performances at 7:30 p.m. on 8/16, 8/17, 8/23, 8/24, 8/30, and 8/31and matinees at 2 p.m. on 8/18, 8/25, and 9/1.
For more information about the Visalia Community Players and to purchase tickets, check out their website and KRL’s article about VCP. Tickets may also be purchased by calling 734-3900. For details about local arts groups in Tulare County, visit the Visalia Arts Consortium website.
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