I had the joy of experiencing one of the finest productions I have seen in years this past Saturday night at Belmont’s Black Box Theater. Studio Tenn’s Production of Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie. While watching the drama unfold through the stories of four characters, I began to realize that a very special gift has been given to the Nashville Theater world through Studio Tenn Theater Company. Beginning their season with Hello Dolly! and completing it with this fine work, Studio Tenn is bringing in some great performers, while providing fresh local talent with performance opportunities they may not have been given with other companies. A breath of fresh air, if you ask me.
Nan Gurley is superb as the eccentric Amanda Wingfield. It cannot go without saying that her commitment and consistency with a Southern accent is beyond impressive. Eric Pasto-Crosby, whom local audiences saw recently in the Tennessee Shakespeare Festival, is very convincing as the burnt out but conflicted Tom Wingfield. Belmont theater professor and local actor, Brent Maddox charms everyone as Jim O’Connor. But, it was recent AMDA graduate, Ellie Sikes who truly stole the show for me. Her performance as the shy and misunderstood Laura Wingfield is beyond moving. One of the acting highlights for me was when her brother accidently breaks two of her precious glass collection pieces. She is left alone on stage for several minutes at the close of the scene and is able to portray deep emotion without any words. This is a performance not to be missed.
Director Matt Logan should be commemorated for his artistic choices that not only provide the audience with an intimate viewing experience but also one that is dynamic and inclusive no matter where you sit. This is only enhanced by the talents of lighting designer, Stephen Moss.
It should come as no surprise that this company is bringing us such impressive and professional productions. Both directors, Jake Speck and Matt Logan were very successful during their time in New York. Speck just finished a 2 year run with Jersey Boys on Broadway and Logan has assisted in casting Broadway shows with Tara Rubin Casting. After seeing this production, I am convinced that they will provide Nashvillians with quality and inventive theater. I look forward to what is to come with Studio Tenn Theater Company!
The Glass Menagerie is showing through February 27th. Tickets can be purchased at: www.studiotenn.com