Studio Tenn Sews Up First Season with Aplomb!, Feb. 17 – 27

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Studio Tenn presents:
The Glass Menagerie (Ages 12 and older)
Belmont University’s Troutt Black Box Theater
2100 Belmont Blvd., Nashville
Thu- Sat 7 p.m., Sun 2 p.m.

Studio Tenn magnificently wraps up its first full season with a true classic, Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie. If you are yearning for a truly exquisite theater outing, this show is definitely a best bet on your family’s entertainment to-do list.

The Glass Menagerie is one of Williams’ most notable works, with much speculation that it is somewhat autobiographical. There are many layers to the overt text here, and even more subtext throughout. Studio Tenn brilliantly puts it all on stage.

Local favorite Nan Gurley shines supreme in her delivery of Amanda Wingfield, the distraught mother of two grown children — one whom she relies on to pay the rent and keep the electricity on, and the other, her gimp-legged daughter, Laura, whom she quests to marry off to a hopeful well-to-do suitor.

Gurley is in top-notch form in her portrayal of her character. Each and every nuance, quirk and emotion she exudes is done with seamless fluidity on stage. Gurley is a true pro who deftly understands and gives succinct life to her role.

This production marks Eric Pasto-Crosby’s inaugural performance with Studio Tenn as Amanda’s son, Tom. This talented actor is well known on local stages at both Tennessee Repertory Theatre and Nashville Children’s Theatre, but his debut on Studio Tenn’s stage is his best performance to date, which proves the truth of how a great director (in this case, Matt Logan) can sculpt talent to its finest.

Brent Maddox’s portrayal as the hopeful groom for Laura, Jim O’Conner, is also on the mark. He perfectly encapsulates a guy who experiences a common bond and relaxful rapport with a girl … which takes the audience into thinking, at first, that Laura’s mom succeeded in her plight to marry off her daughter, but the devastating revelation that is to come tragically brings reality back into the spotlight. And that’s on target, given that this example of Williams’ work is a tragic one.

Ellie Sikes breathes much emotional life into her character, Laura Wingfield. On that front, Sikes delivers without question. The deficit within her performance comes from the only misstep from Logan’s direction. Sikes’ character as written in the play is one who is lame with a hobbling leg infraction. Aside from a couple of instances where Sikes falls onto the floor, there isn’t much inference that her character possesses a disabilty.  Throughout most of the show, Sikes walks around the stage as if nothing is “wrong,” yet her character’s physical “deficit” is a hugely integral piece of Williams’ story arc.

Overall, Studio Tenn’s production of The Glass Menagerie is divine. And kudos to a wonderfully successful, engaging and inspiring first season! I can’t wait to see what unfolds next season from this absolute gem of our theater community!

Chad Young is the managing editor and arts/entertainment editor for this publication.

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