This season’s revival of “The Glass Menagerie” reaped seven Tony Awards nominations. That it tied with “Twelfth Night” for the most bids among plays was commendable enough. Making this recognition even more special is the fact that these mark the first Tony nominations ever for this Tenneesee Williams‘ classic despite five previous productions that were eligible.
Three of the four cast members were nominated: two-time Best Actress winner Cherry Jones (“The Heiress,” 1995; “Doubt,” 2005) reaped her fifth bid in this category for playing the manipulative matriarch Amanda Wingfield. Celia Keenan-Bolger earned her third Tony nomination in a featured category for her heartbreaking performance as the emotionally and physically crippled Laura while Brian J. Smith got his first nomination for his work as the kindly gentleman caller. Only one-time Emmy contender Zachary Quinto (“American Horror Story: Asylum”) was snubbed for the leading role of the play’s narrator (and Williams’s stand-in) Tom.
John Tiffany won the directing award two years for helming Best Musical “Once” and is a strong contender for presiding over this production. Rounding out the nominations are two other past Tony champs: scenic designer Bob Crowley (a six-time winner) and lighting designer Natasha Katz (a three-time winner).
“The Glass Menagerie” first came to Broadway in 1945, two years before the Tonys were first presented. As Amanda, Laurette Taylor gave a performance that was talked about along the rialto for decades. Indeed, Katharine Hepburn called it the greatest she had ever seen.
Since then, there have been five revivals but all the leading ladies were snubbed, including Tony darlings Maureen Stapleton (1965, 1975), Jessica Tandy (1983) and Julie Harris (1994) as well as two-time Oscar champ Jessica Lange (2005). Likewise for the featured cast members which included Rip Torn, Bruce Davison, Zeljko Ivanek and Christian Slater as Tom as well as Piper Laurie, Amanda Plummer, Calista Flockhart and Sarah Paulson as Laura.
Williams followed up with “A Streetcar Named Desire” but this only reaped one Tony nomination for its original run in 1948: Best Actress (Play) for Tandy who created the role of Blanche DuBois; she lost to Judith Anderson (“Medea”).
Williams won Best Play just once — in 1951 for “The Rose Tattoo,” his fourth work to make it to Broadway. “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” lost to “The Diary of Anne Frank” in 1956, “The Night of the Iguana” to “A Man For All Seasons” in 1962 and the previously unpublished “Not About Nightingales” to “Side Man” in 1999.
To date, Williams’ works have garnered 55 Tony nominations and 10 wins. Nominated performances from these productions now number 28. Six actors won Tonys for these appearances: Eli Wallach and Maureen Stapleton (“The Rose Tattoo,” 1951), Margaret Leighton (“The Night of the Iguana,” 1962), Zoe Caldwell (“Slapstick Tragedy,” 1966), Irene Worth (“Sweet Bird of Youth,” 1976 revival) and Charles Durning (“Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” 1990 revival).
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