BROADWAY LUMINARY ROBERT CUCCIOLI

MAKES HIS NEW JERSEY DIRECTORIAL DEBUT

AT THE SHAKESPEARE THEATRE WITH

THE GLASS MENAGERIE

 

On the company's Main Stage in Madison from June 24 through July 20, the haunting "memory play" by Tennessee Williams is a must-see masterpiece 

MADISON, NJ -- The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey (formerly called "New Jersey Shakespeare Festival") continues its 41st Main Stage season with Tennessee Williams's THE GLASS MENAGERIE. Broadway luminary Robert Cuccioli, of JEKYLL AND HYDE fame, returns for his fourth season with the company, this time making his New Jersey directorial debut. Performances are Tuesdays through Sundays, June 24 through July 20, at the F.M. Kirby Shakespeare Theatre in Madison.

 This semi-autobiographical account of the author's early days in 1930s St. Louis mirrors the turmoil of Tennessee Williams's own life. A heartbreaking yet often funny "memory play" told from the perspective of Tom Wingfield(portrayed by Robert Petkoff), THE GLASS MENAGERIE is the story of a family desperate to break free of the burdens of their past and present. Tom's mother, Amanda (Wendy Barrie-Wilson), has been abandoned by her husband, and now lives only for her children; his unmarried sister, Laura (Katherine Kellgren), is a fragile and painfully shy creature who retreats into a world of glass animals and Victrola records; and Tom himself is torn between his poetic inclinations and the responsibility of supporting his mother and sister. Each escapes into their own "glass menagerie" as a means of eluding the pain of their own -- and each other's -- existence.

 Said director Robert Cuccioli, "Tennessee Williams based the characters in THE GLASS MENAGERIE on real people he knew all too well: his own family. For the first 30 years of his life, he was living THE GLASS MENAGERIE, and it was from that often traumatic experience that his masterpiece, this 'little play,' as he would disdainfully call it, evolved. However, all of us can and will recognize parts of ourselves and our family members mirrored in the shards of glass that make up the brilliant whole of THE GLASS MENAGERIE."

 He continued, "For me, one of the most important themes of this play is the issue of responsibility, and the conflict that arises in trying to fulfill our own self-imposed or perceived contracts of responsibility. In the case of Tom, our narrator, he feels trapped in a life that doesn't inspire or suit him, and he longs for something more -- a life of adventure. Yet his responsibility toward his sister, Laura, keeps him prisoner, feeling desperate to 'escape from a coffin without removing one nail.'"

Artistic director Bonnie J. Monte's extensive experience with the works of Tennessee Williams includes collaboration with Williams himself on TENNESSEE WILLIAMS: A CELEBRATION, a major tribute to the playwright's entire literary canon that was produced in 1982. Of her choice of Mr. Cuccioli as director for this play that is so near to her heart, Ms. Monte remarked, "This is a theatre that leans heavily toward the tradition of actor/directors. Bob has expressed his interest in broadening his directorial scope, and he felt like the perfect person to put at the helm of this show. Both his amazing sense of the musicality of the language and his tremendous emotional sensibilities made him leap out toward me as an apt and exciting choice to direct THE GLASS MENAGERIE."

 The Cast 

In the role of Tom Wingfield, a young man haunted by his past as well as his present, is Robert Petkoff, who returns for his second season with the company following his lauded performance in last year's acclaimed production of THE ILLUSION. Among his many stage credits are THE ROYAL FAMILY with Jud Dench at Theatre Royal Haymarket in London's West End; EPIC PROPORTIONS on Broadway; MORE STATELY MANSIONS and AVOW off-Broadway; and numerous regional theatre credits including JOLSON SINGS AGAIN and VOICES IN THE DARKat George Street Playhouse, as well as productions with Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, The Globe Theaters, The Royal Shakespeare Company, Denver Center Theatre Company, Hartford Stage and The Shakespeare Theatre in the Nation's Capital. He has appeared in the films MILK AND MONEY, GAMEDAY, VICE VERSAand LOVERBOY, and on television in HACK, LAW AND ORDER, QUANTUM LEAP, MARRIED WITH CHILDREN and as the young Liberace in the bio-pic LIBERACE. As Amanda Wingfield, the overbearing mother of Tom and Laura, is Wendy Barrie-Wilson, whose Broadway credits include ALL MY SONS starring Richard Kiley and OUR TOWN, starring Paul Newman, which was taped for broadcast on P.B.S. and Showtime. THE GLASS MENAGERIE marks Ms. Barrie-Wilson's ninetieth play. Among her numerous regional theatre credits are UNCLE VANYA at Great Lakes Theatre, opposite Hal Holbrook; Stella in A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE at The Williamstown Theatre Festival, opposite Christopher Walken; Regina in THE LITTLE FOXES at CATCO; May in FOOL FOR LOVE at Portland Stage; and ABE LINCOLN IN ILLINOIS at Indiana Rep (her great-aunt Elizabeth Risdon played the original with Raymond Massey). She has also worked with Denver Theatre Center, Actor's Theatre of Louisville, Huntington Theatre, the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, and at a number of New York theatres, including New Dramatists and New York Stage and Film. On television, she has appeared in SEIZE THE DAY on P.B.S.'s AMERICAN NOVEL, LAW AND ORDER and various soap operas.  The fragile Laura, nicknamed "Blue Roses" by The Gentleman Caller, is played by Katherine Kellgren, whose recent stage credits include the title role in LINCOLN CENTER REEL TO REAL: BEATRIX POTTER, and a specially presented reading of THE BALD SOPRANO directed by Joseph Chaikin at Manhattan Theatre Club. On film, she appeared in JERUSALEM (with Max Von Sydow) and ANOTHER BED. In addition to other stage and television credits, Katherine has recorded many radio plays, including THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA (with Paul Scofield), A CHRISTMAS CAROL and BONHOEFFER:THE COST OF FREEDOM (winner, Peabody Award). Most recently she recorded EDWARD GOREY: THE GOREY DETAILS for B.B.C. Radio.  

In the role of The Gentleman Caller is Kevin Rolston, who returns for his fourth season with the company. Among his Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey credits are ENRICO IV, HAMLET, THE COMEDY OF ERRORS, ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA  and TWELFTH NIGHT on the Main Stage; and Shakespeare LIVE! touring productions of THE TEMPEST, ROMEO AND JULIET, JULIUS CAESAR, MACBETH and A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM. Most recently, Kevin made his off-Broadway debut in the new play WHOSE FAMILY VALUES!, directed by Philip Rose, with the New Federal Theatre at The Clurman. 

About the Director

Multi-talented, veteran actor Robert Cuccioli marks his New Jersey directorial debut with The Shakespeare Theatre's production of THE GLASSMENAGERIE. His performing credits with the company include the musicals CARNIVAL! and ENTER THE GUARDSMAN, as well as Shakespeare's ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA. He repeated his performance in ENTER THE GUARDSMAN when it moved off-Broadway to the Dimson Theatre, and recently reprised the role of Mark Antony in ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA at the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis. 

Mr. Cuccioli earned a Drama Desk Award, an Outer Critics Circle Award and a Tony Award nomination in 1997 for his portrayal of Dr. Jekyll and his alter ego, Mr. Hyde, in the Broadway production of the musical thriller JEKYLL AND HYDE. Mr. Cuccioli garnered Chicago's prestigious Joseph Jefferson Award during JEKYLL AND HYDE's national tour, and made his directorial debut in 2001 with JEKYLL AND HYDE at the Westchester Broadway Theater. He directed the show again at The Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera.  Recently, he wrapped a successful run of FICTION, a world premiere at McCarter Theatre, where he previously performed in THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL. Mr. Cuccioli made his Broadway debut as Javert in LES MISERABLES in 1993. His long list of stage credits includes Broadway, off-Broadway, nationally touring productions and regional theatre, including an Outer Critics Circle award for his off-Broadway performance in AND THE WORLD GOES 'ROUND. He has appeared in Woody Allen's movie CELEBRITY and the independent film THE STRANGER, and on television in SLIDERS, BAYWATCH and GUIDING LIGHT. 

The Artistic Staff 

Creating the Wingfields' home are set designer Brian Ruggaber, lighting designer Bruce Auerbach and costume designer Hugh Hanson.