This Week on Stage: Zachary Quinto and Cherry Jones slay critics, Walter White as LBJ

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Image Credit: Michael J. Lutch

If you had anything to do with John Tiffany’s new revival of Tennessee Williams’ classic memory play The Glass Menagerie, chances are you had an extremely good week, as the production received raves by NY critics, signaling a must-see to the theaterati. (And make sure you get tickets soon, as it closes Jan. 5.) Actually, Tennessee Williams seemed to inform much of this past week; joining Menagerie is an unearthed work by William Inge that explicitly references another Williams play (they were famously pals), and look sharp for an upcoming review of True Blood star Joe Manganiello in a revival of A Streetcar Named Desire, playing up in New Haven, CT. And yes, he does appear shirtless, but don’t even think of snapping a photo of him during the show! And a little-known TV star named Bryan Cranston (you know, from that small show Breaking Bad) takes on Lyndon Johnson in a new play with designs on Broadway (click on the links below for the full reviews):

All the Way  Bryan Cranston seems to have conquered the TV universe and a little bit of the film world too (Argo, Drive), but how did Thom Geier think he fared tackling the titanic stage role of former prez Lyndon B. Johnson in this new three-hour opus? “All the Way is never dull, but the three-hour play is seriously overstuffed”, says his review, adding some praise for the leading man, “as good as Cranston is as Johnson, and he is very good indeed, the Emmy-winning actor could benefit from more time to hone his portrait.” EW grade: B+

Arguendo  Elevator Repair Service (who staged the acclaimed 6.5 hour production of Gatz a few years back) return with a docuplay based on a notable 1991 Supreme Court case that questioned whether erotic nudity fell under the First Amendment (but don’t worry about length, this one’s only 80 minutes). Did Geier find it impeachable? Not in the least, though he says “there’s not much subtlety here…even so, Arguendo offers a spirited defense of free expression that is as heartfelt as it is silly.” EW grade: B

The Glass Menagerie  After an acclaimed run in Cambridge, Mass., the entire team behind John Tiffany’s (Once) highly original take on the Tennessee Williams drama have now settled on Broadway for a 17-week run. Geier was bowled over by the production, calling it “an exquisite production…Cherry Jones is masterful as Amanda…Zachary Quinto is wryly funny but no less affecting.” EW grade: A

Natural Affection  William Inge, Tennessee Williams’ closest mid-century contemporary, took on the big bad city and family dysfunction in a long-forgotten drama recently unearthed by The Actors Theatre Company in NYC. Is the production up to snuff 50 years later? My take is that it is a “moody, sensuous, and eventually shocking” play worth rediscovering, despite being “serviceable without ever pushing the envelope far enough” though Episodes‘ John Pankow “hits both the sweet and sour notes in a fully realized portrayal of a broken-down drunk”. EW grade: B-


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