You never forget your first love.
From the moment my best friend in high school eagerly slipped me a homemade cassette copy of Into the Woods, I fell for Joanna Gleason–as only a young, music-theater-lover-in-training can do. Tony voters were similarly smitten and gave her the award for Best Actress in a Musical for her sensible, sexy and deeply relatable Baker’s Wife.
The ardor was long and lingering (to this day friends of mine can still stop conversation with a perfectly timed imitation of her exasperated, stunned, “I need your shoes!”). Any time she unexpectedly appeared on a movie screen (think of her terrifying mother in Boogie Nights or priceless discomfort in Hannah and Her Sisters) or returned to the stage (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, etc.), it was met with a sigh of satisfaction, the warm glow of fond memories and reawakened appreciation for her talents.
So, this is all a long-winded way of saying Joanna Gleason is back on the New York stage in a new play, Sons of the Prophet, currently in previews…and the world feels right again. Let’s watch a few video highlights from her career to welcome her back…
It doesn’t get much better than Gleason singing “Moments in the Woods” from Into the Woods. She is that rare singer/actor that burrows into some of Sondheim’s most stimulating, twisty, thoughtful lyrics and makes us believe that these words have not been written but are tumbling out of her for the first time. (Her little flutter of a hand gesture on “moments” kills me every time.) I still want to be her Baker’s Wife when I grow up…minus the “giant” issue.
Did you know that Joanna Gleason is the daughter of famed game show host Monty Hall (Let’s Make a Deal)? So it’s only right that she rocks at Password. I love classic game shows and this clip only makes me love her more. (And don’t you want her on your team at your next game night?)
Billed as “the funniest play about human suffering you’re likely to see,” Sons of the Prophet officially opens at the Laura Pels Theater on October 22. I’m definitely looking forward to it.