Joining American screen actress Jessica Lange (pictured) – who, as previously announced (See News, 14 Dec 2006), returns to the West End for the first time in seven years - in the cast of The Glass Menagerie at the West End’s Apollo Theatre are Ed Stoppard, Amanda Hale and Mark Umbers. Tennessee Williams’ 1945 play is being revived for a limited run from 13 February to 19 May 2007 (previews from 31 January), directed by Headlong (formerly Oxford Stage Company) artistic director Rupert Goold.

Set in St Louis in the 1930s, The Glass Menagerie tells the story of the Wingfield family – Tom (Stoppard), 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 (Hale), 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).

Ed Stoppard, son of playwright Tom Stoppard, was most recently seen in the West End in ETT’s production of Hamlet at the New Ambassadors Theatre. His other London stage credits include Wit in the West End, The Road to Ruin and Saint's Day at Richmond’s Orange Tree Theatre, and Age, Sex, Location at the Riverside Studios. At Chichester Festival Theatre, Stoppard has starred in productions of The Merchant of Venice and The Seagull.

RADA-trained Amanda Hale’s stage credits include The Importance of Being Earnest at Oxford Playhouse, and Crooked at the Bush. Mark Umbers, who plays “The Gentleman Caller” in the Williams play, has starred in The Pirates of Penzance at the Regents Park Open Air Theatre, The Merchant of Venice, Candide and My Fair Lady at the National Theatre, and The Vortex at the Donmar Warehouse.

The Glass Menagerie follows another Williams drama, Summer and Smoke, into the Apollo, which had previously been due to host the Sherman Brothers’ 1940s-set musical comedy Over Here from 8 January to 16 February 2007.

- by Caroline Ansdell