Powder and Wig illuminates the power of memory in “The Glass Menagerie”

The blackbox cellar theater in Runnals was standing-room only Friday night for Powder and Wig’s debut of their latest play, Tennessee Williams’ “The Glass Menagerie.” With a small, but stellar cast of Chelsea Regan ’17, Jay Huskins ’18, Colleen Wright ’19, and Joseph Malionek ’17, the group delivered a truly unforgettable performance. The show follows the dynamics of a small family including a mother, a son, and a daughter, and the nuances of finding a suitor for her daughter. The events circle around one unfortunate evening for the daughter, Laura.

The play opened with a monologue by Huskins introducing his character, Tom, who served as the narrator and protagonist.  He cautioned the audience that he was telling the events solely based on memory. Huskins mastered his character’s serious yet hot-headed demeanor that developed throughout the play. The audience was then introduced to Amanda Wingfield (Regan), Tom’s Southern-Belle mother. Regan brought her character to life with her wistful monologues recalling debutante days long gone. The plot centered around Amanda’s desire for her anxiety-ridden and crippled daughter, Laura (Wright), to find a suitor.

Tom eventually invited an acquaintance from work, Jim (Malionek), to dinner. Jim began to bring Laura out of her shell, a process that was initially painful yet heartwarming and hilarious as Jim’s confident charm eased Laura’s anxiety. The plot unraveled when Laura found out about Jim’s engagement. “The Glass Menagerie” concluded with Tom bidding farewell to his family and presumably his unfulfilling life as an overworked factory employee.

Director Cole Walsh ’19 has a special connection to the play. He was given the script by his grandmother, which had been marked-up copiously by her brother. Walsh’s great uncle was a professor of theater at Lasalle, and Walsh says that his “insights into the characters and staging of the show helped me realize the beauty and tragedy in it.” Walsh wanted to put on this production in honor of his late great uncle.

“The Glass Menagerie” has been months in the making, and Walsh credits its success to his “unbelievably talented cast and crew”. He also acknowledges the role his Stage Manager, Tayte Messman ’19, had in the performance. “Most people don’t know this, but a stage manager’s job is to know everything about the show…and Tayte knew everything. I could not have done it without her,” he says.

Cast members Huskins and Regan corroborate Walsh’s sentiments. “I don’t think I’ve ever been pushed to act at this level before, and I really thank our insane cast and crew for this experience,” says Huskins. Regan adds, “Cole and Tate created a supportive atmosphere that allowed us to really delve into the elaborate material.”

“The Glass Menagerie” is a play about remembering and forgetting, love and loss, and the importance of family. Regan says, “For me, this play is about the dangers of idealizing the past and forgetting to live in the present, which is an incredibly relevant topic right now.” The show had the audience laughing, crying, and looking inward at the importance of the past in the present.

Powder and Wig is Colby’s student theater club. Their next production, “Romeo and Juliet”, is directed by Kaylee Pomelow ’19 and will run December 2-3.

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