Chances are you know who Joanna Gleason is, even if the name doesn’t initially ring a bell. She most famously played the Baker’s Wife in the original 1987 production of “Into the Woods.” Gleason also acted in a variety of television shows and films including “Boogie Nights,” “Crimes & Misdemeanors” and “The Wedding Planner.”
Sitting down with Tony award winner and Fairfield resident Joanna Gleason, I was a bit starstruck. I quickly found out, however, just how down to earth the actress, singer and director is. She genuinely wanted to know who I was, and I found it so easy to talk to her. She spoke about her show, “Out of the Eclipse,” which is coming to the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts on Nov. 8 at 7 p.m., and her process creating it.
“Out of the Eclipse” isn’t your usual cabaret performance. It’s a 70 minute narrative story Gleason will be performing with three backup singers called The Moonstones as well as four musicians. The performance centers around the lives and personalities of Gleason’s parents. It’s a continuation of her cabaret show, “Into the Light.” “Out of the Eclipse” was birthed after her parents passed away two years ago and she was given the opportunity to perform at Feinstein’s/54 Below. After consulting with her music director about the story she wanted to tell, she decided to write about her parents.
“Losing [my parents] happened at the same time there was a total eclipse of the sun, and it was like I went dark,” Gleason said.
Although the show was created after a tragedy, Gleason assures that it’s more about her parents’ lives and how funny they were. Gleason believes she truly got to understand them in a way that she couldn’t when they were alive while developing “Out of the Eclipse.”
Gleason’s show will exhibit a variety of music types. From “Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us” by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss to Yiddish music to Rodgers and Hart arrangements, there isn’t one genre Gleason is confined to. Because the show is so centered around her parents, Gleason was able to create a book that has variety and which does not completely break the flow of the performance.
“I use music like narrative,” Gleason said. “I sing part and I tell a story and I sing the rest of it and I tell the rest of the story. It’s not just a list of songs I like.”
Although she wrote the book with her parents in mind, she doesn’t mention them by name. In order to move the audience and make it more personal to each individual, she decided to tell their stories without their recognizable names. That way, the audience could go through the whole show thinking about their own relationship with their parents.
It’s a show that’s going to be funny and eclectic and emotional, and it’s something you should definitely consider getting tickets for. Tickets are $5 for students on the Quick Center website.
“It’s just really honest, and sometimes a little raw and people kind of like that because it’s a way of saying it’s not all shiny,” Gleason said. “We’re not all shiny people.”