Glenn Close savors 'challenging' Broadway return
Nov. 12, 2014
NEW YORK (AP) — There's a special room in the Golden Theatre on Broadway where Glenn Close can travel back in time.
The Tony- and Emmy Award-winner, who stars in a new revival of "A Delicate Balance," has helped decorate the backstage communal coffee room with framed photos from some past roles tackled by her and her co-stars.
There's one photo from the set of "Jagged Edge" and another of her posing with the original cast of "The Real Thing" on Broadway. There's one of her snuggling John Lithgow in "The World According to Garp" and one with her in "Dangerous Liaisons."
"It's about history and connections," Close explains, making a cup of tea and curling up on a sofa.
Looking at the walls is like a six-degrees of stardom test. The "Jagged Edge" photo is there because designer Ann Roth, who made the costumes for the play, also made them for Close in the 1985 movie. Why the "Garp" photo? Easy: Lithgow is now once again her co-star.
What about the "Dangerous Liaisons" shot? Close explains that she and Lindsay Duncan both played the same part, one on film and the other onstage. Now the actresses play sisters in the new revival.
"I keep telling people to bring in stuff," Close says. "I like to think of a company as a family and all the connections we have is really fun to surround ourselves with."
Spend even a few minutes in the room and you quickly realize that Close is savoring every minute of her return to a big Broadway role since she wowed everyone 20 years ago in "Sunset Boulevard."
She'd been searching for a stage project since her show "Damages" ended in 2012, and landed on Edward Albee's 1967 Pulitzer Prize winner, which examines the stresses and strains of family and friendship.
"I narrowed it down to this because it's a very strong ensemble piece and I knew I wanted to come back surrounded by a strong group of actors," she says. "And it's very challenging."
The play takes place in the well-appointed home of Tobias and Agnes, a handsome couple nearing the end of middle age. Agnes, played by Close, frets — about losing her mind, for one thing, and becoming "mad as a hatter, chewing the ribbons on her dress." A series of visitors threaten to upend their comfortable lives.
The play is Close's first brush with performing Albee and it is challenging stuff. "It doesn't trip off your tongue when you're learning it," he says. "It was very hard to get into it. We all have found the language challenging."
In addition to Lithgow, Duncan and Close, the play co-stars Bob Balaban, Clare Higgins and Martha Plimpton, who plays her daughter and at one point during the interview wanders into the backstage coffee room to chat with Close and laugh at her first headshot, at age 11, hanging on the wall. Of her co-star, Plimpton gushes: "Fantastic. The best. It's true: She is the best."
Close's return to Broadway is a homecoming for the three-time Tony winner, who began her professional career as an understudy for The New Phoenix Repertory Company in New York. She still recalls fondly the original Helen Hayes Theatre, where she first worked.
"I actually was riding the bus down Seventh Avenue when they were wrecking it. And I saw it sheared off," she says. "I saw the little fourth floor dressing room that had been my first dressing room."
She spent this summer doing some indie films — "I played a grandmother in most of them but they were fun," Close says — and the next big project on her horizon is the same as her current one: History and connections. She helped her sister, Jessie Close, write a memoir about living with bipolar disorder.
Glenn Close, who lost daily touch with her sister for several years around the time Glenn's acting career took off, wrote three vignettes and the epilogue for "Resilience," due out early next year.
"It was shocking to me to know what she'd been through. I'm very proud of her for writing this book. I think it was not easy," says Glenn Close, who helped create Bring Change 2 Mind, a nonprofit organization that aims to end the stigma of mental illness. "I didn't know she's lucky to be alive."