Thursday's opening-night performance of Tennessee Williams' classic "The Glass Menagerie" by Lean Ensemble Theater was -- like one of the fragile figurines the play is named for -- a little jewel.
Directed by Blake White, the play was expertly staged and cast.
It can't be said enough how entertaining it was to watch Matt Mundy as the angst-ridden Tom Wingfield. Mundy moved from just-below-the-surface annoyance to fuse-blown exasperation with painful hilarity.
Jenny Zmarzly was superb as the overpowering and needling Amanda Wingfield, a woman whose ambitions for her own children are overshadowed only by her longing for a life that could have been.
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And Nora Leahy's restrained performance as Laura Wingfield was a nice contrast to Zmarzly's. You believed she was a lost soul, capable of being steamrolled not only by her mother but by life itself.
Torsten Johnson as Jim O'Connor, "the gentleman caller" -- a character who could have been immediately forgettable as he enters the neurotic family's world in the second act -- held his own.
The cast took a lengthy play filled with plenty of drama-filled moments and emotionally charged dialogue and made it fresh. In the hands of the wrong actors, "The Glass Menagerie" has a tendency to become overwrought. Here, though, Lean Ensemble's cast seemed genuinely connected to the material.
The heated exchanges between Tom and his mother were particularly well done, and the tension between them -- as Tom springs the news about a forthcoming visit from a very real "gentleman caller" while they are huddled together on the fire escape -- was delightful.
The set and costuming was nicely done, and the use of the stage was quite good. Tom's standing offstage to look in as the action unfolds, remembering -- just as he states in the opening that this is a "memory play" -- was a nice touch. Faint music from the era trickling in underscored more poignant moments.
At times the plotting seemed a bit off as with the long pauses in the scene at the dinner table, but for two hours and 15 minutes, the play overall moved along nicely.
Lean Ensemble has two additional plays planned for its 2015-2016 season. If they are anything like its debut performance, I look forward to seeing them both.
IF YOU GO
Lean Ensemble Theater's production of "The Glass Menagerie" runs at 7:30 tonight through Saturday, with a matinee at 2 p.m. Sunday, at Main Street Theatre, 3000 Main St., Hilton Head Island.
Tickets are $40 for evening performances; $35 for the matinee.
Lean Ensemble will continue its season with "The Waverly Gallery" Jan. 28-31 and "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike" May 5-8.
Season subscriptions to all three plays are available.
To purchase tickets call 843-715-6676. For more information, visit www.leanensemble.org.
Follow reporter Mindy Lucas at twitter.com/MindyatIPBG.