Is Joe Mantello Too Old For “Menagerie”?

I’m not going to repeat all the arguments for and against casting an actor who is decades older than the role as written — I did that at length in an essay for The Financial Times. In terms of Mantello being 53 and his “Glass Menagerie” character, Tom, being three decades younger, I think it’s highly defensible. It’s a memory play, and Tom is looking back at the person he used to be. Tom in the original Broadway production was played by Eddie Dowling, who was even older than Mantello. And Mantello, though known primarily a director, is an excellent actor: terrific on Broadway in “Angels in America” and “The Normal Heart.” He should have reprised his “Heart” role, as Ned Weeks, in the HBO version. He was relegated to a small role and, in his big scene, wiped everybody off screen. So I look forward to seeing him in “Menagerie.” Yes, we’ve just had one on Broadway, but the chance to see Sally Field onstage — she’s playing Amanda — is too rare to pass up.

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