Lange Returns to West End in Williams' MenagerieDate: 14 December 2006
Tennessee Williams’ rarely seen 1947 play Summer and Smoke closed prematurely at the Apollo Theatre last month (See News, 13 Nov 2006), but theatregoers will soon have another chance to get their fill of the late American playwright at the same address. Williams’ more famous play, The Glass Menagerie, premiered two years before Summer and Smoke, is being revived for a limited run from 13 February to 19 May 2007 (previews from 31 January).
And, whereas Summer and Smoke boasted a British screen actress in Rosamund Pike, The Glass Menagerie will return American screen actress Jessica Lange (pictured) to the West End stage after an absence of seven years.
Set in St Louis in the 1930s, The Glass Menagerie tells the story of the Wingfield family - Tom, who is torn between his obligation to his family and his desire to break away, his overbearing mother Amanda (Lange), and his frail sister Laura, whose memory he cannot escape.
Lange – whose many film credits include Tootsie and Blue Sky, both of which won her Academy Awards - made her London stage debut playing Blanche Dubois in a 1996 revival of Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. She was last seen in the West End in the 2000 revival of Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day's Journey into Night (See News, 22 Aug 2000), which was presented by Bill Kenwright, the same producer behind The Glass Menagerie.
Lange first played Amanda Wingfield for Kenwright in a 2005 Broadway production of The Glass Menagerie which co-starred Christian Slater and was directed by Briton David Leveaux. Prior to opening, it was tipped to transfer quickly to London but Leveaux’s revival received mixed reviews in New York (See The Goss, 10 May 2005). The new London staging is being directed by Rupert Goold, artistic director of Headlong Theatre (formerly Oxford Stage Company), whose recent acclaimed productions have included Paradise Lost and Faustus.
Dark since the closure of Summer and Smoke, the Apollo had been due to host the Sherman Brothers’ 1940s-set musical comedy Over Here - with a cast including Richard Fleeshman, Frances Ruffelle, Donna McKechnie and Diane Langton – for 49 performances only, from 8 January to 16 February 2007, ahead of a brief regional tour (See News, 20 Nov 2006). No announcement has yet been made about an alternative venue for the musical.
- by Terri Paddock