Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie is playing at the Mark Taper Forum in downtown now through Oct. 17th. Although plays can sometimes be hit or miss for me, I've always enjoyed this stifiling family saga since I first read it back in high school. The two time Tony award winner Judith Ivey stars as Amanda Wingfield, the controlling former Southern belle desperately seeking a gentlemen caller to provide for her shy spinster daughter. The New York Times says it's "the performance of her career.” Personally, I recognized Ivey from her stint on the later seasons of Designing Women playing the rich character B.J. Poteet. The play also starred Ben McKenzie from The O.C. Definitely go see it, tickets aren't too expensive ($45) and the theater is intimate. I also saw a few celebs in the audience taking in the play too--Richard Chamberlain and Tim Bagley from Monk.
In the same week, I also watched the musical, Leap of Faith at the Ahmanson Theatre next door to the Forum. It's a new musical making it's world premier in Los Angeles and stars Brooke Shields and Raúl Esparza. The story is about a con artist that prays on a rain-starved town in Kansas by putting together a gospel-charged tent show and asking for money to perform "miracles." Sound familiar? It's based on a film also called Leap of Faith with Steve Martin, Debra Winger and Liam Neeson. I've always been a fan of the film and it was interesting seeing it turned into a musical. I liked the Gospel and bluegrass type music from 8-time Oscar winner Alan Menken (The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast). However, the show was a half hour too long for me and I thought some of the lyrics were corny. Although I'm a fan of Brooke's and liked her in Broadway's Wonderful Town, I wasn't too impressed with her here. I think she's better off with upbeat songs, yet was given a lot of sad love songs to sing. Either way, it was a fun show, but not the greatest. It's still new yet, so maybe they can iron out some of the kinks and hopefully remove the annoying ballet transition scenes that seemed so out of place. The production leaves L.A. on October 24th so see it while you can, tickets are only $25 to $47 via GoldStar.