Review: Glass Menagerie Soars With Humanity, A Hit for Korda

(Actors Maggie Pinsonneault, as Laura, and Cindy Lee Kok, as Amanda, performing in Korda Artistic Production’s The Glass Menagerie during final dress rehearsal at Kordazone Theatre on Thursday, October 24, 2019. Photo above by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.)

In some plays, nothing is as it seems. In Tennessee Williams’ acclaimed The Glass Menagerie, presented by Korda Artistic Productions and now playing at the Kordazone Theatre, everything is as it seems. Such is the genius of Williams. His characters are neither sinister, maniacal or diabolical. But, on balance, close to regular folk living in rather challenging, at a ground level, circumstances.

It is not a play of highly successful, glamourous people. While not one of its four characters has actually met with any degree of greatness, or even achievement, this is not to say they have, or at least foster, certain ambitions.

Korda Artistic Production’s The Glass Menagerie

Actors Maggie Pinsonneault, as Laura, David Sivak, as Tom, Cindy Lee Kok, as Amanda, performing in Korda Artistic Production’s The Glass Menagerie during final dress rehearsal at Kordazone Theatre on Thursday, October 24, 2019. Photo by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.

In many ways this would cause it to be seen as a dark play, but, as Director Jeff Marontate tells Eyes on Windsor, the darkness of the plot is offset with an ongoing vein of brilliant everyday humour.

Korda Artistic Production’s The Glass Menagerie

Actors Cindy Lee Kok, as Amanda, and David Sivak as Tom, performing in Korda Artistic Production’s The Glass Menagerie during final dress rehearsal at Kordazone Theatre on Thursday, October 24, 2019. Photo by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.

There are also tensions, emotional outbursts, physical violence and a certain sadness around each character. The most apparent is the situation of the family’s daughter Laura. Maggie Pinsonneault plays the role with a general melancholy so appropriate to a girl with a game leg who immerses herself in two passions. The first is listening to records. The year is 1936, and Props Master Misty Habib has decorated the set with what appears to be an authentic gramophone complete with a large listening horn.

Korda Artistic Production’s The Glass Menagerie

Actors Maggie Pinsonneault, as Laura, and Cindy Lee Kok, as Amanda, performing in Korda Artistic Production’s The Glass Menagerie during final dress rehearsal at Kordazone Theatre on Thursday, October 24, 2019. Photo by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.

Laura’s other passion is collecting glass animals. Her assembly is so prolific, her mother Amanda calls it her “glass menagerie.” One of Pinsonneault’s considerable tasks, which she does so well, is that of hobbling around the set in the manner of a person who is partly crippled.

Amanda, played with full Southern accent and charm by Cindy Lee Kok, wants no truck with talking about her daughter as a cripple. It would not be appropriate that a contender for belle of the Governor’s Ball would have such a child.

Korda Artistic Production’s The Glass Menagerie

Actors Maggie Pinsonneault, as Laura, and David Sivak, as Tom, performing in Korda Artistic Production’s The Glass Menagerie during final dress rehearsal at Kordazone Theatre on Thursday, October 24, 2019. Photo by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.

Somehow, she has found herself living in a low rent apartment in St. Louis. Costume Designer Jay Medd executes a jaw dropping transition. Amanda, a down on her luck housewife, emerges wearing a spectacular gown, the very same one she wore to the Ball. It provides a glimpse at her past life of high precision elegance.

Korda Artistic Production’s The Glass Menagerie

Actor Cindy Lee Kok, as Amanda, performing in Korda Artistic Production’s The Glass Menagerie during final dress rehearsal at Kordazone Theatre on Thursday, October 24, 2019. Photo by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.

Possibly it is the reason she nags her son, Tom, for his less than polite company eating habits. Tom is a most fascinating character in his own right. David Sivak presents a young man with ambitions that simply do not reconcile with his life as a warehouse worker.

Sivak is also the play’s narrator who, basically, recounts the story from his memory of the events. He tells us about Tom spending most of his evenings in movie houses, watching movies, and commiserating to himself on his rather dull life. He has no friends at work, besides and old school chum.

Korda Artistic Production’s The Glass Menagerie

Actors Maggie Pinsonneault, as Laura, David Sivak, as Tom, Cindy Lee Kok, as Amanda, performing in Korda Artistic Production’s The Glass Menagerie during final dress rehearsal at Kordazone Theatre on Thursday, October 24, 2019. Photo by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.

But he has a plan. He uses money allocated for the light bill to purchase a membership in the Union of Merchant Seamen. His running away to sea would not seem out of scope given his father, a telephone company worker, went on a long-distance leave and was never heard from again, except for a postcard from Mexico with the terse message “Hello, good-bye.”

Korda Artistic Production’s The Glass Menagerie

Actors Cindy Lee Kok, as Amanda, and David Sivak as Tom, performing in Korda Artistic Production’s The Glass Menagerie during final dress rehearsal at Kordazone Theatre on Thursday, October 24, 2019. Photo by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.

This he confides to his only friend at work, Jim O’Connor, after convincing him to drop by for supper, a guise to have a gentleman caller for his sister. O’Connor is Irish with Dave Weaver delivering a performance that Williams’ would have loved and which gives the play some very tender moments.

Korda Artistic Production’s The Glass Menagerie

Actors David Sivak, as Tom, and Dave Weaver, as Jim O’Connor, performing in Korda Artistic Production’s The Glass Menagerie during final dress rehearsal at Kordazone Theatre on Thursday, October 24, 2019. Photo by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.

There are some novel twists including the stage going dark. It turns out, that unpaid light bill has the utility cutting off the power at about the same time Laura and Jim commence to talking about old times, by candlelight. In high school both were members of the chorus and Laura suffered an unfulfilled crush on the dashing Irishman.

Korda Artistic Production’s The Glass Menagerie

Actors Dave Weaver, as Jim O’Connor, and Maggie Pinsonneault, as Laura, performing in Korda Artistic Production’s The Glass Menagerie during final dress rehearsal at Kordazone Theatre on Thursday, October 24, 2019. Photo by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.

Korda Artistic Production’s The Glass Menagerie

A portrait of Mr. Wingfield, the father, hanging on the set wall during Korda Artistic Production’s The Glass Menagerie final dress rehearsal at Kordazone Theatre on Thursday, October 24, 2019. Photo by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.

Seventy-four years have passed since The Glass Menagerie was first performed on Broadway. It is the humanity of the characters coupled with the exceptionally articulate acting that gives the play its longevity and makes it well worth seeing for the first or tenth time.

As mentioned, Jeff Marontate is the director, producers are Alexandra and Elizabeth Dietrich. The Executive Producer is Tracey B. Atin.

The Glass Menagerie opens Friday, October 24 and will run for three weeks on October 25 and 26 and November 1, 2, 7, 8 and 9 at 8pm with 2pm matinee performances on October 27 and November 3 at the Kordazone Theatre, 2520 Seminole. Information can be found at kordazone.com. General admission tickets are $20, $15 for seniors and $10 for students.

Robert Tuomi

Article by Robert Tuomi

For over a decade, Robert has covered local news and community events. Initially as a contributor to CBC Radio’s local morning show and then as the long-time producer and host of CJAM’s The Rest of the News and as a journalist at the Windsor Square. A graduate of the Nikon School of Photography he enjoys illustrating his reports with what he sees through his camera’s lens.