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Gideon Glick
Into the Woods in Central Park

by Beth Herstein

Gideon Glick
"Jack" in Into the Woods

For its second production of this summer, the 50th Anniversary Season of the Delacorte Theater, The Public Theater's Shakespeare in the Park is presenting the enduring Stephen Sondheim/James Lapine musical Into the Woods. The first half is a mash-up of beloved fairy tales including Jack and the Beanstalk, Cinderella, and Rapunzel, while the second half explores what happens after happily ever after. The show opened on Broadway in 1987 and received an acclaimed revival in 2002. The current production runs from July 24 until August 25.

The cast includes Tony winners Donna Murphy and Denis O'Hare, and Oscar nominee Amy Adams, among many others; Glenn Close will provide the voice of the giant. In the role of Jack (of Jack and the Beanstalk fame) is 24-year-old Gideon Glick, who first gained attention in New York as Ernst in the Off-Broadway and Broadway productions of Spring Awakening. Since then, the Philadelphia native has appeared locally in Speech and Debate at Roundabout's Black Box Theater, a part which he recreated for the 2008 Los Angeles production; Spider-Man, from which his character was cut during the show's revisions; and Wild Animals You Should Know at MCC Theater. He also is in two upcoming films, A Case of You and Gods Behaving Badly. On top of all this, Glick is studying art history at NYU; he took a break from school when he was cast in Spider-Man and has one year left before he obtains his degree. "I fully intend on finishing my degree," he says. "I am starting to feel the eagerness to go back and learn again."

I spoke with the busy actor by phone during Into the Woods' rehearsal period.

Beth Herstein:  When did you first know that you wanted to be an actor?

Gideon Glick:  I think I always wanted to perform. My brother and I—and my sister, too, when we were much younger—we were always performing, singing. My parents tell me I was rather obsessed with the film Bye Bye Birdie when I was 5 or something. My family always liked theater and has been very supportive of me doing it—getting me to my lessons, going back and forth between the city of Philadelphia and the suburbs, and later between home and New York.

BH:  Spring Awakening, which you did off and on Broadway in New York, brought you and a lot of other younger performers a high level of visibility.

GG:  Absolutely. It was a great way to come to the city. A great way to get your foot in the door.

BH:  In interviews you gave around that time, you mentioned that it was the longest period you'd been in a single show. You talked about the adjustments you had to make to keep the work fresh.

GG:  Theater is a living, breathing entity. Something works for a little bit, then stops working, then it falls apart, and then you have to figure out how to make it work again. You have to come at it differently. You have to keep chipping away from different sides.

BH:  What was it like doing Speech and Debate?

GG:  I loved it. I got to do it with one of my best friends from Philadelphia, Sarah Steele. She's been a close friend since growing up. [Playwright] Stephen Karam has also been a close friend of mine since the show. It was such a fantastic production, too. The characters were complicated, and we had a great company. Jason Moore is a terrific director. The space was interesting too, and great after coming from a large house [for Spring Awakening]. I get antsy very quickly, so I like when things get shaken up.

BH:  You also were in Spider-Man, until your role was cut during previews and revisions. When interviewers asked about it, you described the experience—especially your collaboration with Julie Taymor—in a very positive light.

GG:  Yes, you said everything that I think. I still cherish that time. It was a hard process and a complicated one. I've never had an experience like that, and I don't think I ever will again. Granted, I haven't been working that long, but that might be one of the strangest experiences I've had. It's a very interesting part of my personal history.

BH:  Now, you're preparing for Into the Woods. You've mentioned that you saw the revival in 2002. Was that your first experience with the show?

GG:  One of my close friends, Molly Ephraim, played Little Red in that revival. I remember how exciting it was to have my good friend on Broadway. My mom and I went to see the very first preview of it, too. I've always had a connection with the piece. I used to watch it every weekend. I have so much love for it. It's a very profound musical, and it asks very deep and extensive questions. It also has characters that are unique and neurotic and fun to watch. Usually in musicals you don't have that many journeys to track. But, in this show, there are many people that you follow, and that's really unique.

I was thinking of the "A Song of Ice and Fire," series, which is the basis for [the HBO series] "Game of Thrones." I am a big fan of those books. And George R. R. Martin, the writer of the series, has successfully created so many characters who are complex. I always wonder how one man can sit by himself and think all this stuff up—or, as Sondheim did, with James Lapine ... how he uses all these voices, how they intersect. I don't have that ability, and I'm quite enamored with their ability to do so.

BH:  There's such a tremendous cast in this show. I know it's early right now, as you're just doing rehearsals, but what has it been like working with them so far?

GG:  I am very fortunate. This cast has been quite a dream. To work with them and see them work—it's better than a class. There's nothing better, to be honest ... . Also, I keep marveling at the fact that there's no large ego in the room. These people are so gifted at what they do, and there's such a sense of ensemble and giving. I've been lucky to watch them perform. I keep pinching myself. I'm a huge fan of them all. Denis [O'Hare], in particular, I've been a fan of his for a very long time. He's a remarkable person on stage and off stage. I've been here in New York for six years, and I know I'm fairly young. To see people that are so accomplished, and quite talented and gifted—and to know they really have it together off stage as well.

BH:  You seem, from what I've read, to try to stay that way yourself. You have your family behind you, and you look to the people around you and try to learn from them, taking the best things you see.

GG:  That's what I try to do. I've trained somewhat, but I never really sat down and studied acting before. So, it's kind of learning as you go, for me. I'm still learning, and I'll probably always be learning, and trying to think of how I can be better—more like Denis O'Hare, for example. I can only be me obviously, but I'm always thinking about it.

BH:  You have a few movies coming out. Do you want to say anything about them?

GG:  A Case of You and Gods Behaving Badly are coming out. I have a very small part in A Case of You ... Gods was a very crazy and awesome experience. The cast was quite phenomenal. I've been lucky enough to work with Edie Falco, who I think is one of my favorite people I've met so far. She, like others I've been talking about, is quite talented and gifted, and a dream to work with. She's great on film and stage, and great off. I'm lucky to meet these people, and to know that they exist.

BH:  How do you feel about performing in Central Park?

GG:  The Park itself is going to be an experience. No matter what you see there, the Park is always great. The humming of the elements—the wind—you can't count on that. It's different with each performance. There's a sort of synergy between nature and the show that develops. I remember seeing Romeo and Juliet [in 2007], it was the first production I saw at the Delacorte. There was a moment when Lauren Ambrose, who I think is lovely, was giving this speech, and during the speech the wind started pushing her garment back. It was so amazing. You can't recreate that. It only happened at that one moment. No matter what you call it, it seems magical.

Shakeespeare in the Park: Into the Woods July 24 - August 25 at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. Based on the Regent's Park Open Air Theatre London Production produced by Timothy Sheader and William Village for Regent's Park Theatre Ltd. Featuring Amy Adams, Jack Broderick, Glenn Close, Victoria Cook, Gideon Glick, Cooper Grodin, Ellen Harvey, Ivan Hernandez, Tina Johnson, Josh Lamon, Bethany Moore, Jessie Mueller, Donna Murphy, Johnny Newcomb, Denis O'Hare, Noah Radcliffe, Jennifer Rias, Laura Shoop, Tess Soltau, Sarah Stiles, Eric R. Williams, Kristine Zbornik, and Chip Zien. Directed by Timothy Sheader with co-direction by Liam Steel.

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