“Witty, melancholy and moving” – these are the words sophomore Abbey Vogel used to describe the Tim Russert Department of Communications and Theatre Arts’ spring play “The Glass Menagerie.”
Unlike recent shows at JCU, Tennessee Williams’ “The Glass Menagerie” incorporates themes that are dark and can be difficult to deal with.
Vogel, who plays Laura Wingfield in the production, commented on the change of pace for JCU productions.
“It is uncommonly beautiful and is the first sad show I have done here at JCU … The previous two productions in which I have participated were comedies. This play is … different from the other mainstage shows I have done,” said Vogel.
Vogel’s decision to audition for Laura came from her desire to act out a complex role as opposed to the lighthearted ones she previously participated in.
“Laura is a dream role for me,” Vogel said. “And I feel honored to have the chance to put my own spin on a character that has been played by so many amazing people, and written by a favorite playwright.”
She described the plot as a telling insight into the human condition, which parallels with the reason the director selected the show.
Karen Gygli, associate professor of theatre and director of the play, said, “The situation, the family dynamics and the conflicts are heartbreaking and universal.”
She chose this play to give students a variety of theatre to experience.
“I decided that a tried-and-true classic play was in order. And I had wanted to direct ‘The Glass Menagerie’ for a long time,” said Gygli.
Gygli’s selection of this play also stemmed from her belief that the JCU community will find that they empathize with the characters’ struggles.
“We’ve just come out of an economic struggle recently, and many young adults are conflicted about family duties versus their own desires to be their own person,” Gygli said. “I hope to create a living event that will convey the beauty of this play and living, breathing characters.”
The play only has four characters, which is why Gygli decided to double cast the show.
“The cast of the play is only two men and two women, and I felt there was a lot of potential in many more of the students who auditioned,” said Gygli. “It has been interesting to see how each cast is a little different in their interpretation, even with one director. You can learn about a play from a different angle when you are acting in it.”
Not only are there just four characters but also one set, which takes place in an apartment in St. Louis during the Great Depression. The set and lights were both designed by Keith Nagy, assistant professor and producing director of theatre at JCU. Despite the dark themes in the play, the cast appears to be happy with the opportunity to send a hard-hitting message to their audience.
The cast is also happy they got the chance to work with their colleagues outside of the classroom.
“I’ve enjoyed working with these students,” said Gygli. “They really are enthusiastic and committed to this production and they’ve been a joy to work with.”
“The cast is so great,” said Vogel. “Everyone is supportive, dedicated and fun. I feel so blessed to interact with such wonderful student leaders and production staffers, working together to perform a show that has always been close to my heart.”
Vogel’s co-stars include seniors Luke Hearty, Chris Kent and Julia Blanchard, freshmen Veronica Zielinski and Derek Sullivan and sophomore Joe Bellian. The show opens Friday, March 21 with a special morning preview for high schools and JCU students on March 20. For more information on show times and ticket prices, visit sites.jcu.edu/russert.