Nancy Sasso Janis
OnStage Connecticut Critic
Waterbury CT - The Waterbury Arts Magnet School Theatre Department presented three performances of ‘The Glass Menagerie’ by Tennessee Williams on the school’s intimate Apron Stage. The play was directed and designed by independent Study Theatre Senior Brianna Stankiewicz and executed by the period 4 Theatre Production class at WAMS.
Faculty advisor Nina A. Smith explained in the program that “as part of their learning, actors are working in the booth and backstage, tech students have been researching, musicians had to create original music through character analysis, but most importantly they have created a micro theatre company and they trusted their student director/designer.” Technical assistance was provided by WAMS faculty Chip Machokas and Bruce Post, and Scott Schulte was credited as the Apron Stage Wizard.
Ms. Stankiewicz has spent seven years in the WAMS Theatre Department and done an impressive 17 productions there. Ms. Smith described this budding new theatre artist’s design concept as a unique one for this show, and felt that it would reintroduce the classic piece to new audiences. The technical concept included projections of a mix of modern and vintage photos, scene notations and several quotes from the play that worked well and added a level of memory to the play.
Ryan Rinaldi gave a wonderful performance as Tom and cast an impressive shadow as the narrator of the memory play. Amber Clavette took on the role of the matriarch Amanda and commanded the stage. Lillana Lopez played the fragile young Laura with sincerity and Daniel Roundtree played a very tall Jim, the gentleman caller.
The performance was a compact 90 minutes, so portions of the script were omitted for time. The young actors mastered their numerous lines and understood their characters, and the entire production had a fine dreamlike quality facilitated by the choices made by the director. The vintage set pieces set the scene well and Mr. Rinaldi made good use of the elevated catwalk for his narration monologues.
Period costumes were designed by Danielle Lopez and Jillian Mulligan, and props were covered by Ms. Lopez and Nate Rivard. Christian CJ Janis served as musical director of the musicians that included Tom Vaughn on a handmade glass harp and violin, Trinity Flores on bells, Myles Labarre on sax and piano and Brandon Szep on subtle drums and chimes. The music was quiet and perfectly selected, with “Ave Maria” for a maternal accent and good dance hall music that drifted over from the venue across the street from the Wingfields. The remaining students from the theatre class filled in all of the unseen yet important roles necessary for a successful performance.
Congratulations to the members of this theatre class at WAMS and their teacher Nina A. Smith on a memorable production.
Photos of the cast of 'The Glass Menagerie' by Nina A. Smith