Leads: Meet the Salesmen of Broadway's New Glengarry Glen Ross

Leads: Meet the Salesmen of Broadway's New Glengarry Glen Ross Playbill.com takes an exclusive look at the new Broadway revival of David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross, focusing on all seven actors and the characters they portray.

Glengarry Glen Ross cast: (from top) Alan Alda, Gordon Clapp, Jordan Lage, Liev Schreiber, Jeffrey Tambor, Frederick Weller and Tom Wopat.
Glengarry Glen Ross cast: (from top) Alan Alda, Gordon Clapp, Jordan Lage, Liev Schreiber, Jeffrey Tambor, Frederick Weller and Tom Wopat.

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Alan Alda

Character: Shelly Levene
Stage experience: QED, Art, Jake's Women, The Apple Tree, The Owl and the Pussycat
Other credits: "The Aviator," "Crimes and Misdemeanors," "Manhattan Murder Mystery, "ER," "The West Wing," "M*A*S*H"
Sales experience: "I had a job in a mutual funds office, a little bit like this. You had to get up on the board. You had crappy leads. Some guys in the office got good leads and I never understood how that worked. I was very young: 22 or 23. It was interesting to be trained in how to talk to the customer and to see, in some ways, the disregard for the customer. The thought was they have all this money that's really yours and they're just holding it for you."
Toughest job: "I did a lot of jobs as a young out-of-work actor: a cab driver, a door man, a clown in front of gas stations. I think one of the most frustrating jobs was coloring baby pictures because you did it by the piece and it turned out I tried to be good at it and I wound up making 10 cents an hour.
On Glengarry Glen Ross: "I was really glad that they were doing this play again because I think it's one of the great plays in American theatre. And I knew they wanted to get a real strong company. And you can't do this without a powerful acting company."
On Levene: "I have an understanding of the character and my understanding will deepen as the months go on. On closing night, I'll understand it differently."
On Mamet's language: "You may be surprised to know there are some very bad words in it."

 

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Gordon Clapp

Character: Dave Moss
Stage experience: Of Mice and Men, Ah, Wilderness!, Blackout, The Snowball
Other credits: "Moonlight Mile," "Rules of Engagement," "Sunshine State," "Eight Men Out," "Deadwood," "NYPD Blue"
Sales experience: "For a very short time, I sold the New York Times over the phone. I don't think I lasted more than six weeks. I maybe sold 10 subscriptions and I must have talked to 800 people. I remember that there were guys who really were able to do it and I'd listen to them and I'd go 'What are they doing that I'm not doing?' But what ever it was, it was working and it never worked with me. I remember being on the phone with one guy for about 45 minutes and finally the supervisor came over and said he's never going to buy this. He will keep you on that phone for three days, but he's never going to buy it. There's a couple they refer to in the script, they like to talk to salesman.
On Glengarry Glen Ross: "What really sold me on it was actually coming in and reading it. I had a little audience, there were three people there watching me read and it was so much fun getting that kick, getting a response."
On leaving "NYPD Blue": "I wasn't ready to let it go. Because I wasn't there everyday, I had a pretty great job because I got to do some great stuff, so it was harder for me to see it go."
On returning to theatre: "I was really nervous. This is the first full production I've done in I guess 12-13 years. It's been a long time. I did a small play a couple years ago in LA, but it was basically a monologue."

 

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Jordan Lage

Character: Baylen
Stage experience: Gore Vidal's The Best Man, The Old Neighborhood, Our Town, Sea of Tranquility, Edmond"
Other credits:"The Pink Panther," "State and Main," "The Spanish Prisoner," "Oz," "The Water Engine"
Sales experience: "I worked at a place called Antique Boutique — which is one of those used clothing stores down on like Broadway and Waverly — back when I was in college and I pretty much sucked at it. I was terrible, I was too honest. I told the people they would look good or look bad and a lot of times, they did look bad and you can't be doing that as a salesperson. You gotta be making the sales. It didn't really matter to me because I knew that that wasn't what I was going to cut out to do."
Toughest job: "Simply being an actor is pretty darn tough. Acting."
On Glengarry Glen Ross: "It's truly one of the great plays in the American dramatic canon. Not only that, it's just a fun play for actors to sink their teeth into."
On Baylen: "Small yet pivotal, I like to say."
On Mamet: "I've done a lot of his plays, a number of his films. I saw him about three weeks ago, right after I found out I got the role. I hadn't seen him in a couple years and the first thing he said to me was "Yeah, you want what, what do you want?" He was quoting my character. And at first I was like "Dave, what the hell are you talking about" and then I realized oh yes, that's my character. So that's the kind of thing that David does, he's very playful in that way.

 

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Liev Schreiber

Character: Richard Roma
Stage experience: Betrayal, In the Summer House, Moonlight, The Mercy Seat, Henry V, Othello, Hamlet, Ivanov
Other credits: "The Manchurian Candidate," "Kate & Leopold," "The Hurricane," "Scream 1-3," "RKO 281," "Lackawanna Blues"
Sales experience: "I've been a bartender, I was a brick mason. I've never actually been a salesman."
Toughest job: "Probably the brick mason stuff. I didn't like that too much. Waking up pretty early and physical labor."
On Glengarry Glen Ross: "I think the first show I ever saw on Broadway was Glengarry Glen Ross. At that time, I wasn't really thinking about acting at all, but I remember just being blown away by Joe Mantegna and I just loved the play. I just thought it was a phenomenal play."
On Roma: "I never would have imagined playing Ricky Roma. The first thing that came to mind was Joe Mantegna. So I think that experience combined with the fact that I've seen so many incredible acting jobs at the hands of [the revival's director] Joe Mantello and I was eager to work with him. I've known for a long time and I like him as a person and admired his work."
On Mamet: "There's a whole thing, I think, with Mamet: there's content and there's music. And sometimes they go together and sometimes they don't and I love that musicality. I think, of American playwrights for me, he's one of the best. I think, like Pinter did with English actors, Mamet's really been able to sort of capture the idiosyncrasies and the rhythms and the movements and the musicality of the American regionalisms and I love that. That's my favorite thing about theatre is when you get that synthesis between language and action."

 

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Jeffrey Tambor

Character: George Aaronow
Stage experience: Sly Fox, Measure for Measure, The Hands of Its Enemy, A Flea in Her Ear, American Mosaic, The Seagull
Other credits: "Pollock," "Meet Joe Black," "Girl, Interrupted," "There's Something About Mary," "The Larry Sanders Show," "Arrested Development"
Sales experience: "I used to be a salesman. Well, acting is sales. But, my father — God rest his soul — I worked in his store and I was a salesman. And you know, this play is true."
Toughest job: "I was a busboy. Oh my God. But, there was one: I was a shoe salesman. I won't tell you where, and the shoes were so terrible. And, my manager was stealing from my cashbox."
On returning to theatre: "I ran. I ran. I ran to it. I actually have more hours logged doing theatre than I think anything. I've always been working in theatre. So I'm really happy."
On Aaronow: "I like this character. I like his stance. He's a guy who has kind of lost his courage, who has lost his stroke as they say. And that's a very interesting thing to play as an actor. He's not in a lot of bravura. He's different. It's a nice problem and I hope I solve it.
On Mamet: "David Mamet is a home run hitter. What a great time to be on Broadway, there's Mamet, there's [Edward] Albee, there's David Rabe. These are the priests."

 

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Frederick Weller

Character: John Williamson
Stage experience: Take Me Out, The Little Foxes, The Rehearsal, Six Degrees of Separation, The Shape of Things, The Zoo Story
Other credits: "Four Lane Highway," "When Will I Be Loved," "The Shape of Things," "The Beach Boys: An American Family"
Sales experience: "I did telemarketing for two hours. I did door-to-door for supposedly kind of a Greenpeace -type environmental [agency] but nevertheless I was making 40% commission, so it was about the sales. I was terrible at it, just terrible. Which is kind of appropriate because I understand having worked in an office similar to the one in Glengarry Glen Ross that the office manager is never the best salesman. Because the best salesmen are most valuable as salesmen, so [office managers] are usually mediocre salesmen who are smart enough to run that bureaucracy."
Toughest job: "I had a job working the midnight shift at a hotel, it was just awful, midnight to 8 AM. It was in the summer in New York, I'd get home at 9:30 AM and I'd have no air condition and I'd sleep like four hours and I was just kind of hallucinating the whole summer. I've had some stinkers, grocery clerk in high school.
On Glengarry Glen Ross: "It's a rush. If you get it right, say the lines as they are written, I think you could only be so bad. It's a little bit actor-proof. But, I think it's better if the actors actually do a good job."
On Williamson: "I've always thought that Williamson was an interesting role because he's sort of the fall guy - sort of the bad guy of the office, everybody's against him. They are certain slimy elements to him in that he's very rough with people who don't have power (those who are 'low on the board') and very deferential to people who do have power. But he does what he does for the same reason that everybody else in the play does what he does; which is to feed his family."
On Mamet: "It's the closest thing that the modern theatre has to Shakespeare, I think. Mamet isn't the only modern playwright who writes stylistically in a heightened manner, but he's my favorite and the closest to Shakespeare in that his rhythms are very masculine."

 

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Tom Wopat

Character: James Lingk
Stage experience: 42nd Street, Annie Get Your Gun, Chicago, Guys and Dolls, City of Angels, Carousel, I Love My Wife, The Guys
Other credits: "The Dukes of Hazzard" "Cybill," "Over the Rainbow: A Concert Celebrating a Century of Harold Arlen"
Sales experience: None.
Toughest job: "Well, I milked cows when I was a kid, I grew up on a dairy farm, so I milked cows for eight years. That was tough work. But probably the hardest work I've ever done, just physically was roofing, laying shingles. I did it on and off for a number of years."
On Lingk: "I initially was a little bit hesitant because it's a smaller part. The more I looked at it, the more I realized I couldn't pass it up. The opportunity to be in a cast of this stature and doing a play of this import, it behooved me to do the right thing."

From Left: Jeffrey Tambor, Jordan Lage, Tom Wopat, Alan Alda, Frederick Weller, Liev Schreiber and Gordon Clapp
From Left: Jeffrey Tambor, Jordan Lage, Tom Wopat, Alan Alda, Frederick Weller, Liev Schreiber and Gordon Clapp