The best ‘Glass Menagerie’ of our time returns

The fantastic Gordon Edelstein staging of “The Glass Menagerie” at Long Wharf Theatre last season is being revisited in Manhattan starting March 5 at the Laura Pels Theatre where it is set to run through May 30.

The director and his cast took a break from rehearsal today for a photo op (above)  sponsored by Roundabout Theatre which is producing the transfer.

As I wrote in this space when the show opened in New Haven last spring: “People in the theatre — and people who write about the theatre — have a tendency toward hysteria and hyperbole, but Judith Ivey’s performance is quite amazing.

I’ve seen so many bad productions of the Tennessee Williams play — most especially the godawful Broadway revival with Jessica Lange a few seasons ago — that the thought of another night out at this “memory” piece about mothers and children and family responsibility gave me the willies.

But, Ivey is one of my favorite actresses and she has a way of grounding almost any play with humor and gritty realism, so I had a hunch she might blow the cobwebs off this warhorse.

My hunch was well-founded. Under the direction of LWT artistic director Gordon Edelstein, Ivey makes “The Glass Menagerie” feel newly minted.

Who knew there were so many laughs in the character of the faded Southern belle Amanda Wingfield?

And that those laughs could be produced without sacrificing the Williams poetry and the poignance of Keira Kelley’s presentation of poor “crippled” Laura’s fixation on her glass animals?

Who would have thought that a contemporary actress could find a universal essence of motherhood in such a specifically Southern play, written more than a half century ago?

Ivey made me believe she had spent decades joking and arguing with her grown son Tom — the Williams stand-in played so well by Patch Darragh in this production — and that with a fierce combination of love and steamroller guilt she always gets her way (something the woman has expected ever since she was a beautiful, teasing girl juggling dozens of “gentleman callers” back home in Mississippi).”

If you missed this show in New Haven don’t make the same mistake regarding the New York transfer.