The final two productions of the season at Bluff City Theater present different perspectives on family yet arrive at a similar conclusion — family has a way of pulling people back no matter what.
Perhaps it is because both plays are considered autobiographical depictions of the authors’ lives. Separated by half a century and an entire continent, two authors — one male, one female — sought to bring meaning to the bond defined by who we are and from where we came.
“Emily: The Musical” is based on the series of novels by Canadian writer Lucy Maud Montgomery. Emily longs to escape her island home and become a great writer. As she is buffeted by fate and failure, she realizes her home and family are the bedrock upon which her dreams are built. It is only when she writes about them that her writing shines. “Emily” is a warm, uplifting ode that aims to make us feel glad to be alive and to have people we love and who love us back.
In “The Glass Menagerie,” Tom, also a writer, yearns to escape his life of factory work, a dramatic mother and emotionally fragile sister. Tom escapes but is pulled back over and over again in his mind. The play is based on Tennessee Williams’ life. His bittersweet story is about people trapped by the same love and inability to be honest.
Bluff City Theater has assembled a creative team and cast to present these two stories.
Jennifer Stewart (“The Heiress,” “Best of Enemies”) returns to direct “Emily: The Musical.” Stewart, an accomplished musical theater performer, has come full circle as she appeared in the original Canadian production of this adaptation in 2002 as Ilse Burnley. Supported by Musical Director Colin Healy (“C’est la Vie”) and Choreographer David Jamieson (“Oliver!,” “Alice in Wonderland”), she will direct a cast of 16 performers, including members of the Bluff City Theater Young Company, drawn from local amateurs.
This is the American premiere of “Emily: The Musical.” Performances run June 29 to July 8.
Director Sydnie Grosberg Ronga, well known to New York and St. Louis theater-goers for her critically acclaimed work, will direct “The Glass Menagerie,” her first production with Bluff City Theater. She brings a fresh insight into Williams’ masterpiece with a decidedly younger cast than has been traditionally seen in professional theater. In Grosberg Ronga’s vision, Tom is in his mid-20s, Amanda her mid-40s and their dynamic is complex. Amanda, who sees the world through rose-colored glasses, cannot imagine why Tom chafes at being expected to stand in for his long-absent father.
“The Glass Menagerie” opens in preview on July 20 and runs until July 29.
For tickets and information, visit eventshannibal.com, or call 573-719-3226. Tickets are $26 each, $15 for youth 14 and younger or buy a 4-ticket Flex Pass for just $95. More information about Bluff City Theater is available at bluffcitytheater.com.