Gideon Glick’s Bittersweet Good-bye to Significant Other

Glick backstage at Significant Other. Photo: Jenny Anderson

The way Gideon Glick talks about acting makes it sound like being in a series of relationships. “In this business, you get attached to parts you audition for and don’t get,” explains the young theater vet, who reached Broadway in his teens in Spring Awakening and Speech & Debate. “And you get attached to parts you do get, and they don’t last.” By that line of thought, Glick really is recovering from a breakup — in this case from his role as Jordan Berman, the gay, Jewish, neurotic, perpetually single New Yorker he played in Joshua Harmon’s play Significant Other. The play, which sees Jordan grow apart from his trio of straight female friends as they each get married, premiered at the Roundabout Theatre in 2015 before transferring to the Booth this Spring. It closed on April 23, despite buzz around the play and Glick’s performance. “I have my own partner, my boyfriend,” Glick jokes. “But Significant Other has been my other partner in this for these last couple of years.”

Right now, like any newly minted singleton, Glick’s taking some time off — catching up on the shows of the season and preparing to tape scenes for his small role in the star- and coat-studded Ocean’s 8. A few days after Glick gave his final bows, Vulture caught up with him to talk about his favorite moments in Significant Other, the challenges of bringing a new play to Broadway, and why playing several gay characters doesn’t mean you’re playing the same character over and over.

L-R: Gideon Glick, Lindsay Mendez. Photo: Jenny Anderson

You’ve been performing as Jordan in Significant Other since it was at the Roundabout. What was it like to say good-bye?
It’s bittersweet. It was sad to say good-bye to somebody that you cared about for a long time and thought about for a long time, and then all the characters in the play that we’ve also cared about as well. So that was the sad part, but it’s also a play that we are permanently all very, very proud of, and the fact that it got a second life is pretty extraordinary.

Did you and the cast all get together the night after the last show? What was the feeling after the final bows?
A little crying. You know, it was sad that it was ending and then we all went out to drinks and we were mourning and kind of nostalgic for this chapter that has officially closed. It’s not neatly tied up, but to have a kind of definitive start and definitive end to this experience, it makes you contemplative of the past two years.

You said you’ve been with Jordan for a while and you’ve really gotten to know the character. What was your first impression of him when you read the script for the first time?
I was really excited about him. I had gotten the script for a reading and I just kind of became a little bit obsessed, à la Jordan Berman. I just kept reading it over and over again because I found it to be cathartic and also I found the language and subject matter to be so relevant to where I was.

Cathartic is an interesting way of putting it. Watching the play was almost like an exorcism of all of my most obsessive qualities. You’re like, Oh my god, this is all coming out.
I think Josh Harmon is trying to mine those kinds of feelings with such clarity, and I think that’s why people respond so much to the show, because it feels like what you said, an encapsulation of those kind of dark, dark feelings. But also the kind of joyous feelings you have as well, with getting a crush or having the joys of friendship.

There’s this Joni Mitchell quote, funnily enough, we quote in the show. It’s “laughing and crying, you know it’s the same release.” And that’s kind of been my motto with that show.

L-R: Sas Goldberg, Gideon Glick. Photo: Jenny Anderson

How do you think the show changed when it went from the Roundabout into the Booth on Broadway?
I think the response was getting bigger. All of a sudden, people were kind of ooing and awing, screaming “don’t send it!” [in a scene where Jordan hesitates over whether to send a gushing email to a crush]. Sometimes that never happens off-Broadway.

I knew a lot of friends who were in their 20s and 30s and saw it and saw some aspect of themselves in it. It feels very participatory, I guess.
Yeah! I think they see themselves it, so it kind of jolts them a little bit.

You also got a few shout-outs. Jessica Chastain saw it and RuPaul shouted you out. What was it like to get that wider attention?
Exciting! Especially when it’s from people like Jessica Chastain or RuPaul or Sarah Silverman, people that you admire so much. It feels really affirming in a way to kind of get validation from people you admire.

Acting-wise, were there things you discovered in playing Jordan that you think you’ll carry on with you?
I’ve never trained. I’ve used the field as my training. So I think I’ve learned a lot about acting by playing Jordan. It’s a very demanding part and it’s a hard part to sustain, and so figuring out how to do that has taught me a lot about the craft.

So much of the performance is physical, the choreography of the nervous ticks, that scene where he has to stop himself from sending a Facebook message. It seems like you have to be so precise in that. Were there ways you figured out how to master Jordan’s nervous energy?
That all kind of came instinctively. In rehearsal, we never really talked about what it was going to be and I kind of evolved and then once you’re in previews you can see what people kind of responded to. You try not to do it the same every day, but you have the blueprint, you hit the same marks with some jazz in between.

Photo: Jenny Anderson

It’s an accomplishment in and of itself to get a play to Broadway without having major stars or staging a revival of something big.
I think that is where the more sad part comes in, just because we don’t deem it failure. We find it successful in the fact that it was a piece that we were proud of and people responded to. It was not a commercial success, so it’s unfortunate that plays without stars can’t necessarily survive. This is also a season where there are so many new pieces, so many new musicals and so many new plays. It’s definitely oversaturated.

Significant Other seems like it’s so targeted to 20-somethings and 30-somethings who might not make a habit of going to the theater and getting tickets.
It’s not the demographic that definitely does go to the theater, and if it is, it’s also not the demographic that pays full price for a ticket. I am that demographic and I will admit that I can’t really pay the full price for a ticket. I’m a TodayTix guy, or I go to TKTS. I go to the theater a lot so it’s hard to … you can’t pay full price all the time. I would go bankrupt.

Jordan is very specific gay New York, Jewish guy, but you were saying that a lot of people saw themselves in him. What were their reactions like?
I thought, this is only gonna resonate with late 20-something old gay dudes living in New York, and it just didn’t end up being that way. It was people of all ages and sexes and races. That part was kind of the most gratifying, especially people who kind of had tears in their eyes at the stage door, weren’t fully out of the experience. They were still pretty emotional because they could connect so deeply. I’m not exaggerating when I say this, every day someone said, “this is the first time I saw myself on the stage before.” That was just… there’s nothing more you could ask for.

Photo: Jenny Anderson

I saw you have a role in Ocean’s 8. Have you shot that already or is that still going to be shot?
I’ve shot a couple scenes. I have one more scene to shoot next week that I think will be my last scene, but it’s always unclear. Big-budget films are — what’s the word? They make it up as they go sometimes. These scenes have been coming in that were not in the first draft. I’ve never done a big-budget film so it’s new for me.

Is there anything you can say about your character or is that all top secret?
It’s kind of a rich, entitled man who inherited his father’s security company, tech-security company. I think that’s as much as I should probably say.

A perfect target …
I think he’s a little in over his head.

What has your life been like now that you don’t have to do all these shows a week?
Well, I guess we would’ve had our first show yesterday, so it’s still pretty fresh. But I’ve been going to see plays. I went to an opening last night of Six Degrees of Separation, and I’m going an opening of Bandstand tonight, I’m going to go catch The Glass Menagerie tomorrow. Then my boyfriend and I are going to Puerto Rico for five days.

You’re doing a big-budget movie. You were just in a show. Do you have any specific interest in doing theater, film, TV?
I think interesting roles come first in terms of what I want to do. But honestly, I think I of myself as a theater baby so I could never see myself not doing theater. But in the past couple years, have been doing more film and television and I’d like to think I’ll be doing that.

Do you think you’d want to stay in New York? Or would you move out to L.A.?
I’m not averse to moving out there, but work would have to take me out there just because when you’re not working in New York there’s so much to do. There’s all the readings and workshops you can participate in in theater. I could be mistaken but I don’t know if that’s all there in Los Angeles.

Photo: Jenny Anderson

You’ve played several gay characters onstage, in Spring Awakening, Speech and Debate, and The Few. I feel like a lot of times people ask whether that can make you pigeonholed, but since there’s such a range of gay experiences, I was wondering if you feel like there’s still more to play, or if there are aspects of those experiences you want to explore.
I think most of my roles in the theater have been varying degrees of homosexuality, and I hope that they will never end. I hope that new opportunities arise. I guess I don’t really think about what I want to portray until I see it. There are roles that I want to play, but in terms of things that haven’t been created, I don’t think I imagine them yet.

I think one thing that you can come against, in terms of playing gay roles, is people assume because you’re playing a gay role that you’re playing the same character over and over again, and to me that’s kind of homophobic.

Because they’re thinking that every gay character’s the same person?
You’d never say that to someone who’s playing a straight guy all the time. You talk about all the other aspects of their personality or what they’re going through. It’s the same way, being gay — all the gay characters I’ve played go through vastly different things. I think, especially in theater, there are a lot of very complex, different gay roles.

Especially in theater, maybe less so in movies and TV.
And hopefully, that will change.

Was there a part of the show that you feel like you’ll particularly miss performing, a scene or a moment?
I think I’ll just, I’ll miss the whole shebang, just because it’s such a really spectacular part for me, y’know? Getting to work with Barbara Barrie has been just a true gift. I think I’ll miss acting with her quite a lot. Those scenes were always my favorite, so I guess I would say those scenes. Acting with all of them, and acting with Barbara, but acting with all of them. It’s just been such a rare treasure.

Was it hard saying good-bye to your castmates?
That’s one of the hardest parts of the whole thing. We’ve all grown to really love each other and depend on each other. In the past couple of days we’ve actually seen each other, so it’s kinda been easier, but I don’t know. It makes me actually very sad. I saw Rebecca [Naomi Jones], Lindsay [Mendez], and Sas [Goldberg] last night. We’ve become kind of a family. I hope that we maintain that.

For those people who came to see Significant Other and might’ve gotten interested in seeing more theater, what do you recommend that they go see next or what do you hope they’d seek out?
I’m really excited about new work all the time, so I would say like playwrights excite me — Joshua Harmon, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Annie Baker, Stephen Karam, Samuel D. Hunter, they are people with really interesting voices. I saw The Wolves, that’s the last play I saw that I kind of went nuts for. It was a very psychologically rich play with these girls that you knew deeply. I think that’s really hard for them to pull of writing-wise and also acting-wise. So I think it was just such a success.

Clockwise from left: Rebecca Naomi Jones, John Behlmann, Gideon Glick, Lindsay Mendez, Sas Goldberg, and Luke Smith. Photo: Jenny Anderson

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Gideon Glick on the End of Significant Other’s Broadway Run