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Thursday, January 21, 2010

By the Boards: Dennis Brown on St. Louis Theater January 21-24

Posted By on Thu, Jan 21, 2010 at 9:00 AM

If Tennessee Williams had died in 1945, if he had never written A Streetcar Named Desire or Cat on a Hot Tin Roof or any of his other plays and screenplays and novels and poems and essays, he would still hold an indelible place in the American theater as the author of The Glass Menagerie. This is one of those rare "rite of passage" plays. Young actresses cut their teeth on the fragile Laura; young actors test their chops on her anguished brother Tom.

​The arc of the play is so simple: the trials of a St. Louis family trying to survive during the Depression. Yet as the restless Tom and his smothering mother Amanda tell each other, "There's so much in my heart that I can't describe." Despite the play's eloquence, perhaps it is what's unspoken here that has resonated with three generations of viewers. This weekend the play is on view yet again, this time under the auspices of the Kirkwood Theatre Guild. The production continues through Saturday, January 23.

On Sunday, January 24, at 6 p.m. (following a matinee of The 39 Steps), the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis will host a public memorial at the Loretto-Hilton Center for Brad Graham, the Rep's public relations manager, who died at age 41 three weeks ago. I'm told that Brad enjoyed keeping the Rep up to speed with the newest online technologies. But he also did his job the old-fashioned way: He knew how to write. His press releases were models of clarity. He never wasted a sentence, never tossed in a superfluous adjective. Good writers are always to be valued, and Brad Graham composed the best theater press releases in St. Louis.

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