America's Oldest · Founded 1808

Walnut's Independence Studio on 3 Celebrates Tennessee Williams' Centennial Birth Year with THE GLASS MENAGERIE

January 3, 2011

Jillian Louis. Photo by Mark Garvin.

Philadelphia, PA: Walnut Street Theatre's Independence Studio on 3 season continues with legendary Playwright Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie. This all-new production of the timeless tale is encased in the delicate themes of heartbreaking memory and inescapable reality. The Walnut celebrates Williams' centennial birth year with the first-ever national tour of a Walnut Street Theatre production. The Glass Menagerie begins in Philadelphia with previews on January 18th, opens January 20th and runs through February 6th in the intimate Independence Studio on 3.

The Glass Menagerie is widely considered an autobiographical play. A tale spun with the fragility of glass, it tells the story of the Wingfield family, defined by their financial struggles, lost dreams and unfulfilled desires. Amanda, a faded Southern Belle, clings to her grown children, pushing them to achieve more successful lives than her own. Her daughter Laura lives a painfully shy existence, with only her collection of glass ornaments for companionship. Laura is given hope of finding love, and her mother's approval, when her brother Tom brings home a gentlemen caller.

Tennessee Williams' heartbreaking drama originally premiered in 1944 and is given new life in this production of strained familial relationships. Williams is one of the greatest American playwrights who ever lived. He achieved critical acclaim for his thought ��" provoking plays of suppressed desires including The Glass Menagerie, A Streetcar Named Desire and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. His work is praised for its ability to address harsh realities in a straightforward way. Controversial and memorable, Williams was awarded four Drama Critic Circle Awards, two Pulitzer Prizes and the Presidential Medal of Freedom during his lifetime.

At the helm of the production is Director Bill Van Horn. Over the past few seasons, Bill has appeared in several WST productions, including Curtains and Fiddler on the Roof. Backstage, he has directed productions for all three Walnut series, including his adaptation of A Christmas Carol; Forrest: A Riot of Dreams and 2008's hit production of Neil Simon's The Odd Couple. He also wrote and starred in the Walnut's acclaimed Independence Studio on 3 productions of O Captain, My Captain: Whitman's Lincoln in 2009 and the world premiere of The Prince in 2010 (co-written with Armen Pandola).

Behind the scenes, the creative designers for The Glass Menagerie include set designer Andrew Thompson, who is entering his 8th season at the WST as Technical Director for the Independence Studio on 3 stage. He has designed for WST productions including Enigma Variations, Side by Side by Sondheim and Elliot: A Soldier's Fugue. For The Glass Menagerie, Andrew creates an environment of concealed dreams with a flexible set, designed to travel on the National Tour. Lighting Designer Shon Causer is back for another Walnut production. His previous work in Studio 3 includes: Travels with my Aunt, The Prince and The Mystery of Irma Vep. Mary Folino, the WST Assistant Costume Shop Manager, will be taking the lead as Costume Designer for The Glass Menagerie. She has designed for an impressive 16 productions in the Walnut's Studio 3 including, The Fantasticks and Musical of Musicals. Sound Designer and Composer Chris Collucci is no stranger to the Walnut's stage. A multiple Barrymore Award recipient, Chris is also Sound Designer for the upcoming WST Mainstage production of Amadeus.

The Glass Menagerie cast features an impressive array of talent. Philadelphia residents Damon Bonetti (Tom) and Jared Michael Delaney (Jim) are local favorites returning to the WST after performing in Criminal Hearts and The Dishwashers, respectively. Damon holds an MFA from Florida State University/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training and is the Co-Founder of the Philadelphia Artists' Collective, a program dedicated to showcasing classical plays that have never been produced in Philadelphia. Jared is the Associate Artistic Director of Inis Nua Theatre Company, whose mission is to produce contemporary plays from Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales. He has recently performed in The Duchess of Malfi with the Philadelphia Artists' Collective. Wendy Scharfman (Amanda) has enjoyed an expansive career in stage, television and film and was last seen at the Walnut in Enchanted April. Jillian Louis (Laura) has performed at theatres across the country including the Florida Studio Theatre, Northern Stage in Vermont and on the Walnut's Mainstage stage in Crazy for You.

The Glass Menagerie is the first Walnut Street Theatre production to embark on a national tour. WST is proud to showcase some of Philadelphia's greatest talent in 18 venues, across 6 states. Proof, part of next year's Independence Studio on 3 season, also has a national tour scheduled. For more information about Walnut Street Theatre national tours, visit

Season sponsors for the 2010-2011 Independence Studio on 3 Season are The Independence Foundation and Macy's East. Media season sponsors are Philadelphia Weekly and WRTI Radio. Tickets are $30 and are now available at 215-574-3550 or 215-336-1234. Tickets are also available at or