Just as Cate Blanchett is getting ready to leave Broadway and her outstanding performance in “The Present,” Sally Field arrives tonight.
I saw “The Glass Menagerie” last night with Field, Joe Mantello, Finn Wittrock and amazing newcomer Madison Ferris, and I can tell you that Sally — winner of two Oscars, an Emmy or two– is going for the T in EGOT. This cast and director Sam Gold have reinvented, or rather stripped down and rethought Tennessee Williams’ classic to the point where its almost inside out. The reviews are going to be gushing on Friday morning (I hope, you never know) for this unique, memorable production.
Laura Wingfield is described in “Glass Menagerie” as shy, but also “crippled.” And so Gold has cast Madison Ferris, who is wheelchair bound and has muscular dystrophy. Well, not exactly wheelchair bound, because Ferris et al have transcended that situation, and Ferris is an actress first and foremost. Once you realize that she has a physical disability you also acknowledge that her appearance is a leap of magnitudes for the disabled. Ferris, it seems, can do anything she physically needs to do. And then that drops away. She’s a great young actress.
What’s so interesting is that not a word of Tennessee Williams’ play has been changed and yet, rethinking Amanda this way is a smooth move. It never feels out of place. Because Ferris must hold her own with three really great actors. Sally Field– listen, she has those Oscars for a reason. She’s sublime as Amanda Wingfield. You really think she’s ten feet tall on stage. Backstage, I realized she’s just tiny. Sally Field’s Broadway debut is awesome.
And then there are the guys. Joe Mantello is Amanda’s son, who’s got a lot of secrets and anger. Mantello is almost better known as a director these days, but he’s so at ease as Tom Wingfield, he’s a natural. Finn Wittrock just lights up the stage in the second part (no intermission) as the Gentleman Caller who woos and ultimately leaves Laura.
When I say Wittrock lights up the stage, I mean it. This production is way stripped down. There is barely a set. But kudos have to go to Adam Silverman– the lighting is its own character in this “Menagerie,” and you will be spellbound during Wittrock and Ferris’s candle lit seduction.
What a thrill to see an old play reinvigorated. And Sally Field– my oh my– we really really like her.