Half-Baked: An Interview with the Baker and his Wife
Amy Glover and Alan Digweed know their way around a musical. As a founding member of GMT, Amy’s directorial credits include Fame and West Side Story and for Alan, Into the Woods marks his sixth GMT appearance, fresh from playing Bronx bad-boy Al Deluca in A Chorus Line, and Victorian villain Jack the Knife in last year’s summer boutique hit, The Threepenny Opera. But Into the Woods is especially significant for this talented pair, as it will mark the second time that they have shared the stage as man and wife (or at least, soon-to-be man and wife). First appearing together as Amy and Paul in GMT’s five-star production of Company in 2011, Alan and Amy will reprise their spousal roles as the Baker and the Baker’s wife in another of Stephen Sondheim’s classic musicals. Emma Fraser caught up with GMT’s very own Kate and Leo to find out how their on-stage relationship has grown over time, and what their characters really think of each other... This is your second time playing a couple. How does it feel to be working together again?
Alan: It's a real pleasure working with Amy again, she has a passion and a drive that is infectious. What I love about working with someone I know so well is not having to spend all our time trying to spare the other's feelings when something isn't working. We can just speak plainly and move on.
Amy: The great thing about working with someone you know well is that you feel safe enough to experiment and challenge each other. We spent time early on working out if the Bakers are in love. To begin with we were convinced they weren’t, but the rehearsal process brought out characters we didn’t expect and we weren’t afraid to go “Ok, we were wrong. Let’s find out who these new people are instead.” It’s an organic process; you can think you know where a scene is going and be completely wrong-footed by the other person, in a good way!
How does the dynamic between the Baker and the Baker's Wife differ than that of Amy and Paul?
Amy: In many ways they're similar – two couples who love each other so much, but are wrong for each other and probably shouldn't be together. We all know couples like that!
Alan: I agree, they are similar. Paul had something missing in his life that he tried to fill with marriage, the Baker is trying to fill his with a baby.
Amy: Amy and Paul were co-dependent, whereas now we're exploring a couple who are struggling to find out who they are as individuals, united only by this belief that everything will be fine if they have a child.
Alan: The real difference for me is that we get to see what happens to the bakers after they get what they want. With Amy and Paul you were left to guess.
Have you drawn inspiration from anywhere for your characters?
Alan: I think the Baker is a real everyman, so I've tried to make him as uncool as humanly possible. This is handy as I seem to have been preparing for this role my entire life and Amy has also really helped. I like the roles of ordinary men in extraordinary situations, like Arthur Dent in Hitchhikers Guide. I try take refuge in the small moments of normality in the show were we get to see the Baker's Basil Faulty-like pomposity!
Amy: I love people-watching. I take what we know about the character from the script as a starting point and then fill in the gaps and embellish with moments and people I've observed in real life and on stage. I'm a total magpie! I saw a couple having a screaming match in John Lewis over what to put on their wedding gift list and part of me wanted to tap them on the shoulder and say "Guys, there’s still time to get out of this." The Bakers remind me of that couple.
How do your significant others feel about you being faux-married yet again?
Amy: Mine just likes the fact that Al has to deal with my backstage stress instead!
Alan: I think mine likes that Amy has to deal with me full stop! I get all my showing off and loudness out of my system before going home.
Which other fictional couple would you like a chance to play?
Amy: Well the couple I would most like us to play is Han Solo and Princess Leia, but my musical theatre choice would be Eliza and Higgins in My Fair Lady - it would make a nice change for Al to get to pick ME up on my accent.
Alan: Kermit and Miss Piggy but only if I get to play Piggy. I'm always playing the shy, buttoned down character, it would be good to go over the top while Amy has to sit there and stare disapprovingly at me. Finally, tell us something about each other that only an on-stage spouse would know... Amy: Alan has a tiny bladder. My biggest worry about the show is whether he’ll make it to the interval...
Alan: Amy has many subtle faces of disapproval. I am yet to master them all but I have identified; the "Why Did You Do That?" face, the "Why Did I Do That?” face, the "You're Singing It All Wrong" face, and of course the "No...I'm right...And You're Still Singing It All Wrong" face (this face also comes with a small disapproving sigh).
(Amy sighs disapprovingly) INTO THE WOODS runs Tue 7 to Sat 11 May 2013, opening the new Cottiers Kelvinbridge Theatre @The Lansdowne. Tickets are available from www.cottiers.com/events