Interview: Montego Glover on Becoming the Witch in Into the Woods on Broadway
Glover splits the iconic role with Patina Miller at the St. James Theatre.
Montego Glover was not expecting the call. But when her manager rang her to ask if she had any interest in playing the Witch in Into The Woods on Broadway, she couldn't say no. It was a different offer than usual. Rather than take on the iconic role eight times a week, Glover would only play four performances from Tuesday-Thursday, with Patina Miller, who opened the show over the summer, playing the other four. For the Tony nominee, it's a different experience than she's used to, but one that's no less rewarding. Here, she tells us about digging in and heading, well, into the woods.
This conversation has been condensed and edited for clarity.
How did you come to find yourself in the woods?
I got a call from my manager and he was like "Interesting question…" Honestly, it never crossed my mind!
Had you ever done the show before?
I had done Into the Woods before; as most colleges and universities do, we did a production of it. I was Little Red. It was probably one of the most difficult things I had worked on to that point.
Mr. Sondheim wrote complexity into the lyric, in the delivery of the lyric, in the music, in the orchestrations, in how the show was orchestrated. It's dense in thought. We're having a blast doing it, but it's much harder than anyone really understands.
Do you feel the same way with the Witch's material?
I do. I was thinking about this recently. At 18 or 19, I was playing Little Red. But now, many years later, well into my career, I feel like I've grown into that space, and grown into the Witch.
What is it like to effectively split the role with Patina, and know that you have four shows on, four shows off?
It's interesting. When you're working on a piece of theater, it's with you even when you're not in the theater. Everything about your life revolves around the piece. I feel just as responsible as I would with eight performances. I want to be available and keep my pace with the company. I don't want to feel like we're ever not in sync. Once I started working, I got to shadow Patina twice backstage so I could really watch the traffic, and that gave me the opportunity to get with her in real time. The way we're set up, when she's in, I'm not, and when I'm in, she's not. But we check in with each other weekly.
You guys look like you're having the best time.
It's just magic. And having the opportunity to work with artists I've known forever and have always admired. It's like old home week backstage. I've known Gavin Creel for years, I've always admired Ann Harada. It feels like I'm just hanging out with my friends just doing art. I also always love entering a company and meeting new people, and that as absolutely been true within the woods. I'm meeting a whole new group of people that I've never worked with before. I'm just up here shaking my stick at Stephanie and having a great time.
What is it like to be back on Broadway for the first time post-shutdown?
It's just…keeping pace with life in the new world. It's been very good for me to come out of the heavier part of Covid and setting myself up to be ready to go back to a fully functioning piece of theater. It's really the most wonderful gift. It just feels like a dream situation. We're learning a lot, piecing it together, learning how to put a show up with Covid in the midst, learning how Patina and I can exist as a unit to make the Witch happen eight times a week. Because everyone is so kind and available and focused on the work in the right way, it's like butter.
Glover departs Into the Woods on December 15.