LATHAM: Family drama

Tennessee Williams' classic tale of a southern American family is on stage at Curtain Call Theater.

The Glass Menagerie opened on Friday, Sept. 7, and actor Barbara Richards and director Cindy Brizzell-Bates said the show has gotten off to a great start.

"Audiences are really enjoying it and are responding to it," said Richards, who is playing Amanda, the mother of two adult children living in St. Louis, Mo., during the Depression.

"Amanda is an iconic role," Richards said of the character who, having been left by her husband, reverts back to her past, when "gentlemen callers" were the mark of success among southern belles. "She's a southern belle imposing a way of life on her children."

Richards said that the character of Amanda has been ridiculed, but she is working to make her a real character, not a caricature.

"I've gotten fond of her," Richards said. "Age (Richards described herself as "50ish") and having children helps with Amanda. Hopefully, I'm not that kind of mother!"

"Amanda nags her children to a point where it can be funny," Brizzell-Bates said. "It will seem familiar to most people " when you love the kids so much you drive them crazy."

Amanda is bent on finding a gentleman caller for her painfully shy daughter, Laura, who has a slight limp, and is happy to spend time with her collection of glass animal figurines. Laura's brother Tom is enlisted to find a suitor at the shoe factory where he works, and inadvertently brings home a past unrequited love of his sister's.

"Amanda has the hope that most of us do, that everything will work out in the end, but life doesn't always end up that way," Brizzell-Bates said.

Brizzell-Bates, a graduate of Yale Drama School who teaches drama at Siena College and the University at Albany, said she has stuck with a traditional interpretation of "The Glass Menagerie."

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