Originally published on Paste Magazine
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Gideon Glick has grown up onstage-as a former teenager and now millennial would say-literally. The actor made his Broadway debut at the age of 18 in the original company of Spring Awakening and, after starring in several Off-Broadway plays, including Speech and Debate, Wild Animals You Should Know and Into the Woods, has returned to the Main Stem as an unlucky-in-love young man in Significant Other.
Joshua Harmon’s play, which has transferred to Broadway after its Off-Broadway premiere at Roundabout Theatre Company, chronicles the misadventures of Jordan, a neurotic young man in New York struggling with the inevitable wedding rush of his late twenties. Happily one-fourth of a tight-knit group (played by Lindsay Mendez, Sas Goldberg and Rebecca Naomi Jones), Jordan witnesses his friends falling in love and pairing off, leaving him behind to question his own romantic fulfillment and, inevitably, serve as the reader at each of their weddings.
Significant Other’s move to Broadway brings with it new opportunities for both the cast and the audience. It is one of the first Broadway shows to feature a cast that consists almost completely of millennials (Barbara Barrie, in a sweet performance as Jordan’s grandmother, is the one exception), bringing the anxiety that comes with dating apps and social media on the Broadway stage, and, thus, attracting a different kind of audience than usually fill the seats.
“I’ve never had so many people say, “That’s the first time I saw myself onstage,’” Glick said. The thoughtful and friendly actor continued, adding, “I think the themes of this play are very universal and all ages can be affected by it, but for the millennial audience, they’re seeing their own representation really for the first time. It’s about their lives and how they connect with each other. I don’t know of other plays on Broadway that have been like that.”
Jordan is certainly a relatable character. His emotions encompass everything from joy to loneliness to anxiety and despair as he adjusts from being secure in his social circle to feeling painfully alone. But another notably unique aspect of Significant Other is that while Jordan is the gay best friend of the three women, rather than the wise-cracking sidekick, he is the undisputed main character of the play.
As Jordan watches each of his friends walk down the aisle and away from him, his confusion and unhappiness escalates until it explodes-with unfortunate timing-at his best friend’s bachelor party. Earlier in the play, the two had joked about marrying each other, even discussing the names of their future children. Then, left smiling on the side as she pledges her life to someone else, he explodes. In a lengthy speech, he lashes out at her about her own nuptials, mentioning everything from the cost of the many parties associated with the wedding to the number of gifts expected from each guest. It’s an extensive and emotionally violent rant-and quite cathartic for audience members who have also endured the seemingly endless series of weddings while remaining single. Reciting that monologue is challenging for Glick night after night-it’s a kind of eleven o’clock number of the play-but it’s also a valuable experience for both him and the audience.
“I think the time and place is wrong and off in terms of being a good friend. But I think what people really respond to is what he is articulating, which is 100 percent correct,” Glick said. “What’s so nice about that fight is what they’re both articulating is 100 percent correct. As an audience, you’re kind of on both sides, which is a sign of really good writing.”
Jordan’s poorly timed breakdown is just one of many and varied scenes in Significant Other that inspired laughter, head-shaking and even some groans from audience members. Another embarrassingly relatable moment is witnessed when, attempting to move on from an obsessive crush on a colleague, Jordan goes on a date with someone new-and promptly relates every single detail to his friends, who eagerly function as a Greek chorus providing advice and analysis.
“I think that scene is absolute perfection,” Glick said, laughing. “It’s funny, because that’s what I did [when dating]. I would have the core group of friends that I would talk about the same text message to every single person, ask their advice, take their advice or just not take their advice- as a springboard. What the scene does so well is it articulates it all in real time. I love the overthinking of every single world and what it means.”
The wormhole of analyzing words on a screen is deeply explored in Significant Other, offering a blunt mirror of technology’s impact on modern romance. Jordan barely speaks to Will, the handsome colleague with whom he is helplessly besotted, but he spends endless time staring at his Facebook page, and the staging depicts exactly how he sees Will (perfectly dressed, softly lit and in deep thought).
“With technology you can form relationships with people without really knowing them,” Glick said. “Jordan does that. He fantasizes about Will. He creates this world of who he is without really getting to know him. Modern day, with all the apps and texting and so forth, a lot of dating can be about projecting-projecting what you want that person to be-and you’re not really acknowledging who they really are.”
Jordan’s fixation on Will reaches a fever pitch during one moment when he agonizes over whether to send an email in which he confesses his true feelings. This scene is one of the sprints in the marathon of Significant Other, during which Glick is onstage for its entirety, leaving only once for a few seconds to change his costume. The play, which runs for more than two hours, has served as a physical challenge for the actor, who conducts a full vocal warm up before each performance and, to his mystification, has lost weight since it began performances. (“I don’t know where it’s going!” he said, laughing as he shared that he has never had to watch what he eats.)
Maybe he just needs to add more wedding cake to his diet. When Significant Other bowed Off-Broadway, Glick hadn’t been to a single wedding as an adult guest, and in the past year and a half, he’s gone to eight.
“It’s starting for me!” he said. “I’m 28, which is where this rush of weddings is happening. And my boyfriend is 30, and his friends are getting married. There’s a lot of weddings to go to. I feel much more experienced in the wedding world.”
Unlike Jordan, he has a date to his weddings: Glick has been dating his boyfriend, who he said “takes good care” of him, for two years. Much to his amusement, he met his partner when he stopped looking for one.
“It’s a beautiful cliché,” he said, “The fact is, it really is a real thing. It actually happened to me. When I stopped kind of searching for it and deleted all my apps and said, ‘Eh, too much effort going into it’ was when I met my boyfriend. That’s very funny, as clichéd as it is.”
And, in another notable difference from Jordan, Glick hasn’t been a reader at any of the weddings; he said dejectedly before laughing, “Nobody’s asked me.”