Tag Archives: Imelda Staunton


“I am having THE GLASS MENAGERIE typed up… and I am not displeased with the outcome. That is, when I consider the terrible, convulsive struggle it was to do the thing and what a frightful, sentimental mess it might well have been…

“I think it contains my sister, and that was the subject.” — Tennessee Williams, 1944 letter to Margo Jones*


THE GLASS MENAGERIE indeed contains William’s sister Rose (“Laura” in the play), lobotomized for mild mental illness in 1945, the year of the work’s Broadway opening. This lyrical “memory play”—the playwright’s first great success—enriched both the American theater and its author; a decidedly mixed blessing in the case of the latter:

“The sort of life that I had had previous to this popular success was one that required endurance, a life of clawing and scratching along a sheer surface and holding on tight with raw fingers to every inch of rock higher than the one caught hold of before, but it was a good life because it was the sort of life for which the human organism is created.

“I was not aware of how much vital energy had gone into this struggle until the struggle was removed. I was out on a level plateau with my arms still thrashing and my lungs still grabbing at air that no longer resisted. This was security at last.

“I sat down and looked about me and was suddenly very depressed.” — Tennessee Williams,“The Catastrophe of Success,” 1947

The ideal setting for any production of this chamber piece of regret and flight is a darkened cave or the back room of a dive bar. In a new version at the International City Theatre, the author (“Tom” on stage as in life, played by Ty Mayberry) enters stage right in his sailor’s peacoat and takes us back through a night from his recent past in his former home. The dramatis personae: an asocial sister (Lizzie Zerebko) and her collection of glass figurines, a domineering mother (Jennifer Parsons, recalling Imelda Staunton) desperate to get her daughter married off, a gentleman caller (Emilio Garcia-Sanchez) whose imminent arrival has turned the house upside down, and brother-narrator Tom—trapped in a dead end job, itching to get away,“attempting to find in motion what was lost in space.”

In this gem of a production, the actors have been astutely cast by director John Henry Davis, and Tom’s goodbye to his sister—“Nowadays the world is lit by lightning…”—hits with particular force.



Through September 9.

Beverly O’Neill Theater

330 East Seaside Way, Long Beach.

The Selected Letters of Tennessee Williams, vol. I, 1920–1945, ed. Albert J. Devlin and Nancy M. Tischler (New York: New Directions, 2000), 532.

Top: Ty Mayberry (left), Lizzie Zerebko, and Jennifer Parsons in the International City Theatre production of

The Glass Menagerie.

Middle: Mayberry and Emilio Garcia-Sanchez.

Bottom: Mayberry and Zerebko. All photographs by Tracey Roman.


FOLLIES—a psychological, philosophical memory play with showstoppers (“Broadway Baby,” “Who’s That Woman,” “Losing My Mind,” and the trouper’s biographical tour de force “I’m Still Here”)—is Sondheim at zenith, brilliantly staged in its current London revival by director Dominic Cooke, and available to Los Angeles audiences via a series of National Theatre Live screenings presented at UCLA by L.A. Theatre Works.

Set in a half-destroyed Broadway theater, the original producer and co-director Hal Prince was inspired by a photograph of Gloria Swanson—dressed to the nines—standing amid the wreckage of New York’s Roxy.

The show takes place during an onstage, thirty-year reunion party of former chorus girls, where they are joined by the ghosts of their younger selves—a musical confluence of the past and the present, and a brilliant demonstration of how illusion unchecked feeds regret.

“[FOLLIES] does not condemn the past… it condemns our tendency to hide behind a false depiction of the past rather than let ourselves be confronted by the reality of the future.” — Bert Fink*

Imelda Staunton and Janie Dee—wonderful interpreters of Sondheim’s material—stand out as once-best friends Sally and Phyllis.



Sunday, December 17, at 3 pm.

Saturday, January 13, at 3 pm.

Sunday, January 21, at 3 pm.

JAMES BRIDGES THEATER, UCLA, 235 Charles E. Young Drive, Los Angeles.




FOLLIES, through January 3.

OLIVIER THEATRE, National Theatre, Upper Ground, South Bank, London.


*Bert Fink—program notes for the 1985 New York Philharmonic FOLLIES concert at Avery Fisher (now Geffen) Hall—in Ted Chapin, Everything Was Possible: The Birth of the Musical Follies (New York: Knopf, 2003)

From top: original 1971 Broadway poster by Donald E. Byrd, reflects the Art Deco revival of the time; scenes from the 2017 National Theatre production of Follies, by Stephen Sondheim, including Imelda Staunton as Sally, sitting on a stoop.

Image result for follies poster david byrd


04004 Imelda Staunton as Sally Durant Plummer in FOLLIES at the National Theatre (c) Johan Persson