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The Glass Menagerie • Talkin’ Broadway • 2017

Taking on the iconic American play The Glass Menagerie, which has, since its Chicago premiere in 1944, challenged the best of our stage actors and directors, is no easy task. Perhaps the biggest shoes to fill in all of American theater are those of Laurette Taylor, whose Broadway performance as Amanda Wingfield, mother to Tom and Laura, has been counted, by stage veterans lucky enough to have seen her in the mid-1940s, as the gold standard for stage performance.

Into those shoes steps Suzanne Lederer, whose work in the New Mexico Actors Lab production of this classic Tennessee Williams play at Teatro Paraguas is easily comparable to any of the the other actresses who have essayed this difficult role. Ms. Lederer, who has acquired a long resume in television and on the professional stage (she played Constanze, wife of Mozart, in the Broadway production of Amadeus), lays bare so successfully the complicated emotional chemistry of a character who has one foot in the past and the other in the quicksand of the present, that audience reaction on opening night was both vocal and palpable. One of the highlights of the production comes when Amanda, anticipating a visit by a potential “gentleman caller” for her daughter Laura, becomes, through emotional projection, the recipient of that caller herself: a giddy, Southern belle-butterfly winging gossamer around the newly arrived Jim. A scene that could be uncomfortably creepy becomes, through Lederer's interpretation of Amanda's return to the glories of her youth, sweet and poignant and heartbreaking. . . .


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