About The Glass Menagerie

Theatre-at-Tusculum's production of The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams stars Tristan Matthews as Tom, Todd Wallin as Jim, Josie Norton as Laura, & Erin Hensley Schultz as Amanda.


The Glass Menagerie tells the story of a depression-era family in St. Louis. It is the great American playwright Tennessee Williams’s most autobiographical work, as all of the characters are based on people from his real life. Tom Wingfield, played with an independent and charismatic swagger by Tristan Matthews, is a younger version of the playwright himself. Amanda Wingfield is Williams’s mother, played brilliantly by Erin Hensley Schultz. Schultz’s Amanda is at once overbearing and delightful, frantically hopeful and numbingly centered, stymied by the past and eager for a palpable future. Josie Norton delivers a rare and intriguing interpretation of Laura Wingfield, a version of Williams’s real-life sister, who’s feisty and painfully shy but also enchanting and surprisingly brave. Todd Wallin plays Jim O’Connor, the Gentlemen Caller, based on one of Williams’s real-life college acquaintances. Wallin’s Jim is a an affable go-getter, yet ultimately ineffectual with devastating effect.

Tom wants to escape St. Louis and his family to chase adventures, to live his life with a free and wandering spirit, but he’s stuck as the primary source of income for his mom and sister. Amanda can only find meager employment selling women’s magazine subscriptions. Laura is too physically and emotionally challenged to work. So, Tom toils all day in a shoe warehouse, unhappy and increasingly more resentful—until Amanda strikes a deal with him. If he’ll just find Laura a suitor, then he’s free to pursue his own dreams.

Menagerie’s themes are as relevant today as they were in 1944, when the play originally premiered in Chicago. Many of us contend with having to decide between obligations to others versus ourselves; many of us feel the consequences of either choice. Menagerie has lasted at the forefront of American theatre because it evokes empathy in us. We watch, and we understand. We watch, and we reflect on our own choices and the consequences of caring.

We approached our production knowing we didn’t want to just lean on tried and true formulas for success; we didn’t want our show to just emulate our favorite versions of the play. The strength of our show is in the performances. The actors built their characters from the ground up, remaining true to the script while also digging to make the play more relevant for contemporary audiences. Our Tom isn’t just dreamy; he’s deeply deflated, even self-destructive because of a life he feels obligated to but doesn’t want. Our Amanda isn’t just stuck in the past; for our Amanda, the past is a source of happier memories, but she’s now bent on finding a situation for her family that’s more tolerable. Our Laura isn’t just a pitiful thing to be sorry for; our Laura fights back and even builds up the courage to take one giant risk. Our Gentleman Caller isn’t just someone who appears to show the Wingfields what success looks like; our Jim’s façade is razor-thin, and he exits the encounter with the Wingfields nearly as devastated as them.

Frank Mengel’s set design is also inspired and features artwork by master painter Gary Renfro and lighting by Elijah Collins-White. Audiences will be treated to menagerie effects throughout the production. Andy Ross has scored the production to feature tunes from the 1930s and the resonant, graceful sounds of a live violin, played by local high school virtuoso Jade Ward. Costumer Erin Schultz took careful measures to dress the actors in authentic ‘30s wear. Gracie Weems returns as Director Thomas’s “most-trusted” Stage Manager.

We think our show isn’t just entertaining; it’s also something to behold and to be deeply felt. We hope you agree.



Theatre-at-Tusculum aims to provide professional-quality theatre events at affordable prices. Our productions are presented by professional theatre artists, students studying the art, and talented members from our community. The 2023-2024 season includes The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams, Story Theatre by Paul Sills, & Newsies by Bob Tzudiker and Noni White. Click here for dates & ticket prices.