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After the final invited dress rehearsal of The Glass Menagerie at Ford’s Theatre on Thursday, the company was “ready to roll,” says the theater’s director, Paul Tetreault.
“Then the snow came.”
The theater was forced to cancel performances on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday as a blizzard dumped inches upon inches of snow on the D.C. area.
“The actors were terrific [at the final dress rehearsal]… but that’s really just the beginning of the process,” Tetreault says. “Now they start performing in front of the audience, and they get to settle into the performances, and they begin the dialogue with the audience. Well, [because of the snow], we ripped that away.”
With just one preview under the company’s belt, Ford’s decided to offer a free performance Monday night to “get the actors an audience.” (Going from rehearsals to performances in front of an audience back to the rehearsal room “talking to the wall is just too difficult,” Tetreault says.)
“It’s sort of crazy,” he admits. “We thought, ‘Why not?'”
At 7:30 p.m., the curtain will rise on Tennessee Williams‘ The Glass Menagerie at not cost to the assembled patrons (registration closed earlier today; around 500 people RSVP’d). “I think that it is Tennessee Williams’ greatest play,” Tetreault says. “This play is the most honest, it’s the most unsentimental, and it’s the most true because he wrote it, sort of, autobiographically. And I think our production is very, very true to that.”
On the logistical side, the biggest obstacle to tonight’s performance was getting the company and crew in. (Done and done.) Others will play various roles to ensure the show happens. When Arts Desk spoke to Tetreault, he was at the theater preparing to hand out programs and take tickets.
“It’s one of those great things about the theater,” he says. “These kind of things bring us all together.”
Indeed, Ford’s has experience living the saying “The show must go on.” During the government shutdown in 2013, the theater (whose building is a national historic site operated in part by the National Park Service) moved performances of The Laramie Project to a nearby church.
“It was extraordinary the outpouring of support to do that,” Tetreault says. “And I think we may have that tonight, too.”
The Glass Menagerie runs through Feb. 21 at Ford’s Theatre, 511 10th St. NW. Tickets can be purchased here.
Photo courtesy Ford’s Theatre