Each spring bibliophiles and Brando buffs flock to the Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival to pay homage to the late great playwright, who penned A Streetcar Named Desire in what he called his "spiritual home."
As 2013 dwindles down to a precious few -- a precious few plays and musicals, that is -- it is time to compile our list of the ten best of the year. This year, happily, has no less than fifteen that more than qualify for the ten best; fifteen that I would happily return to for another visit.
Tennessee Williams turned his life into art. The blueprint for his family travails, The Glass Menagerie, put him on the theatrical map in 1944, creating indelible characters. His "memory play," in its latest Broadway revival at the Booth Theater, is stunning.
Despite glowing reviews from its out of town tryout, a stellar cast and a great play, I was not transported by the performance I caught of The Glass Menagerie. I blame the New York Yankees and the raves.
I lived in London over 25 years ago as a young composer. During my two years there I attended a couple of concerts a week which gave me a good sense of the English musical landscape, attended some theatre, and got to know at least parts of the city well.
Often, when we envision a damsel in distress we imagine characters like the protagonist of the 1914 silent film serial entitled The Perils of Pauline, Lois Lane hoping to be rescued by Superman, or the beefy Belle Rosen demonstrating her swimming technique in 1972's The Poseidon Adventure.
Scarlett Johansson's voluptuous draw had the theater packed with 20-somethings clamoring to share airspace with the star, and none seemed to be prepared to absorb Tennessee Williams' cruel truths, a perfect blindside that any writer drools over. The poor bastards never knew what hit them.
The last time I read The Glass Menagerie I was in high school. This weekend, two friends and I went to the Seattle Rep's production, and we couldn't help but see our mother-selves reflected in this 1940s version of a modern-day helicopter parent.
As she discussed her role in the Tennessee Williams play that seems destined for Broadway, she remained unassuming, humble, down-to-earth, smart, funny and roll-up-her-sleeves hard working. No wonder Chicago has received her so willingly.