The Hollywood star Amy Adams is to make her West End theatre debut in a revival of The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams. Adams, a six-time Oscar nominee, has been cast as the St Louis matriarch Amanda Wingfield in Williams’s “memory play” which is one of his most autobiographical works.
The Glass Menagerie will open at the Duke of York’s theatre in London next spring, directed by Jeremy Herrin who called the 1944 drama “one of the best plays ever written – and probably one of the hardest plays to do because it is so fragile and poetic”. Herrin hailed Adams as “a class act” and a versatile performer with the nuanced approach to bring out the interior life of Amanda, who Williams described as a woman “of great but confused vitality clinging frantically to another time and place”.
Adams, who started her career in dinner-theatre productions, has become one of America’s most sought-after actors. Her most recent Oscar nomination was for her portrayal of Lynne Cheney, the former second lady of the US, in the 2018 film Vice. “I am so honoured and excited to be a part of bringing The Glass Menagerie to the stage in the West End," sy het gese. “I have always felt a strong pull towards the work of Tennessee Williams and to this deeply personal story. I am so grateful to be working with the brilliant Jeremy Herrin and with all of the talented cast and creative team. I look forward to the shared experience of theatre.”
Herrin said he was delighted by the alacrity of Adams’ response to the offer of the play and that it was an opportunity for London “to welcome such a celebrated actress”. The Glass Menagerie was first performed in Chicago in 1944 and on Broadway in 1945 with Laurette Taylor as Amanda. The character has since been played by Jessica Tandy, Jessica Lange, Cherry Jones and Sally Field.
Two actors, Paul Hilton and Tom Glynn-Carney, have been cast in the role of Amanda’s son, Tom, the warehouse worker and aspiring poet who narrates the play. The pair will portray the character at different stages of his life, adding an extra layer to Williams’s subtle exploration of memory. There has become a “sort of received way” to stage the playwright’s work, said Herrin, who is directing a Williams play for the first time and admitted he has often been disappointed by productions of the American heavyweight’s classics. The director hopes that having two Toms on stage will provide a moving and mischievous way to see the play afresh.
Lizzie Annis and Victor Alli complete the cast for what will be the first show staged by Herrin’s new entertainment company, Second Half Productions. Laas jaar, Herrin stepped down from Headlong theatre company, where he had been artistic director since 2013. Headlong’s former executive director, Alan Stacey, rejoins Herrin at Second Half Productions, which has been co-founded with Rob O’Rahilly.
Herrin said that he is committed to diversifying creative teams and “inviting collaborators who maybe historically haven’t had the chance to work in commercial theatre”. The director acknowledged that he had been “really lucky” to be working during UK theatre’s pandemic crisis. The lockdowns have been “really punitive for a lot of people in our industry” he continued. “Lots of people who would have been entering the industry with confidence may well have been put off by what’s happened over the past year. I’m going to use the luck that I have, the good fortune to be making work, to bring other people into the industry and to be supportive.”
The Glass Menagerie begins previews at the Duke of York’s on 23 Mei, with tickets on sale from noon today. It is designed by Vicki Mortimer with lighting by Paule Constable and video design by Ash J Woodward.
Herrin is currently in rehearsals for The Mirror and the Light, the final part of Hilary Mantel’s Thomas Cromwell trilogy, which opens at the Gielgud theatre, Londen, later this month. Adams stars in a new film adaptation of the hit stage musical Dear Evan Hansen.