Go and do

WHAT: “The Glass Menagerie”

WHO: Oxford Hills Music and Performing Arts Association

WHEN: Remaining shows are at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, April 24, 25 and 26, and at 2 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday, April 26-27.

TICKETS: $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and children 12 and under. Call 743-5309 or visit www.ohmpaa.org.

Hometown actors shine in ‘The Glass Menagerie’

NORWAY – It’s a quartet of hometown actors in a production at a typical small town Grange Hall. There are folding chairs for the audience. Dozens of friends and neighbors are greeting each other and chatting among themselves.

Then, the lights go down, the first scene of “The Glass Menagerie” begins and you are almost immediately transported to the fragile 1930s world of Amanda, Laura and Tom Wingfield and their desperate quests for security and identity.

That’s what good theater is all about.

And that’s why this production of the classic Tennessee Williams play by the Oxford Hills Music and Performing Arts Association is a must-see.

Each of the play’s four actors is outstanding. Director Tom Littlefield has drawn remarkably real performances from them.

Kathy Davis is excellent in the central role of Amanda, the neurotic mother who only wishes happiness for her son and daughter but continually drives wedges into their relationships. Her swings from likable, even lovable, to impossibly suffocating are handled with skill and compassion.

Davis is an OHMPAA favorite and a tireless worker for the theater group.

Tom, the restless son yearning for release from a suffocating home life, is portrayed with power and controlled emotion by Scott Maddix. His stage presence is impressive and is well supported by his theatrical skills, which, he says, go back to an elementary school show in Norway.

The role of Laura is critical to “The Glass Menagerie.” It calls for extreme sensitivity that must be expressed quietly. Though low- key in action, the role of the painfully shy young woman is intense, and Leah Haney nails the characterization perfectly. This is Haney’s third OHMPAA show.

In his first OHMPAA appearance, Daniel Rennie gives a convincing portrayal of Jim O’Connor, Laura’s long-awaited gentleman caller. Their candlelight encounter is poignant and beautifully staged. Rennie delivers the right combination of cockiness and underlying self-doubt that give depth to a potentially shallow personality of this character.

There is a lot of humor and a lot of honest humanity in this first successful stage work by Williams. And there is not a wasted word in his script.

The OHMPAA cast has done full justice to this important American play.

Also standouts among this show’s superlatives are the set and lighting. Costumes also are good, but – really picky point here – today’s young actors don’t really know how to wear a hat in the style of the ’30s and ’40s. There is an important tilt that makes all the difference, and maybe a look at old movies with William Powell would help.

OHMPAA has a new motorized screen that is raised and lowered for the effect of scenes from memory. The sound of it tended to introduce some distraction. It’s good for any small theater group to try improvements, but a simple filmy cloth might have worked as well here.

An opening night audience gave a standing ovation to the show last Friday. It was well-deserved. With several weeks of wide community support, OHMPAA has produced a winner with “The Glass Menagerie.”

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