Glenda Jackson may have taken a long break from acting for a 23-year stint in Parliament, but she’s still a pro. She showed up to her first rehearsal for “Three Tall Women,” the Broadway revival that opened March 29, with all her lines completely memorized.
“She’s the one person in the room who never picked up her script once,” said Joe Mantello (“Wicked”), who directed Jackson and her castmates Laurie Metcalf and Alison Pill in the Edward Albee play. “You know what I loved about her? In rehearsals, whenever we would call a break she would go out and smoke a cigarette, and when she came back she would be singing a showtune. She would sing from ‘Guys and Dolls,’ she would sing from ‘Carousel.'”
After Jackson’s run in politics, she went right back to acting, first starring in “King Lear” in London in 2016 and now in “Three Tall Women.” What brought her back to the stage after all those years? “Well, the opportunity to work,” she said bluntly after the opening night performance. “Why would an actor turn down a good play? I mean, come on.”
One of her last U.S. stage credits was in another Albee play, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,” for an L.A production that Albee also directed — not that her work with the man himself helped much on “Three Tall Women.” “We didn’t get on,” Jackson said. “He was a very closed-off guy.”
Metcalf, meanwhile, returns to Broadway after her Tony-winning turn in “A Doll’s House, Part 2” and her awards-season spotlight in “Lady Bird.” And it’s happening just as the revival of “Roseanne” has got everyone talking.
“I think people that grew up with ‘Roseanne’ had fingers crossed that it would serve the show as well as it did originally,”Metcalf said. “And I think it did. The writers were very smart about how they’ve positioned this family in 2018.” She hoped to do another season — which was confirmed Friday, after those huge ratings.
For now, though, Metcalf will spend the next several weeks appearing in “Three Tall Women,” a sometimes-surreal look at the stages of a one woman’s life. Reactions to the play vary depending on the age of the audience, noted Pill (“The Newsroom”). “I think older people find it funnier,” she said with a laugh. “Two young women on the edge of 26 came to see it and were horrified.”