The Glass Menagerie opened on Broadway in the Playhouse Theatre on March 31, 1945, and played there until June 29, 1946. It then moved to the Royale Theatre from July 1, 1946, until its closing on August 3, 1946. The show was directed by Eddie Dowling and Margo Jones. The cast for opening night was as follows:
- Eddie Dowling as Tom Wingfield
- Laurette Taylor as Amanda Wingfield
- Julie Haydon as Laura Wingfield
- Anthony Ross as Jim O'Connor
Laurette Taylor's performance as Amanda set a standard against which subsequent actresses taking the role were to be judged, typically to their disadvantage. In the 2004 documentary Broadway: The Golden Age, by the Legends Who Were There, Broadway veterans rank Taylor's performance as the most memorable of their lives.
The play won the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award as Best American Play. Williams gave credit to two Chicago critics, Claudia Cassidy and Ashton Stevens, for "giving him a 'start...in a fashion'..." Cassidy wrote that the play had "the stamina of success ..." Stevens wrote that the play had "the courage of true poetry ..."