Joshua Harmon’s Significant Other isn’t a musical — but it may be the most musical straight-play to hit Broadway in recent memory. The story is punctuated by a diverse track list of pop tunes ranging from Joni Mitchell to Rihanna, and the show’s stars – four of whom stopped by the Billboard on Broadway podcast – all boast serious musical cred.
The play tells the story of Jordan, a 20-something gay man, and his female college best friends, all of whom are progressively heading to the altar as he looks on with increasing fear that he’ll end up alone. “The show is sectioned off with weddings, and there are dance songs for each wedding — that’s the most important music in the show,” says Gideon Glick, who plays Jordan.
“A lot of the other music in the play — when we’re out on the town, at a club or whatever — it’s music we collectively decided this group of friends would have listened to back in their college days but still always jam to, no matter what,” his co-star Lindsay Mendez adds.
Glick and Mendez are joined on the podcast by castmates Rebecca Naomi Jones and Luke Smith. All four have strong backgrounds in musical theater. “There are cool ways in the which the music is used [in Significant Other] similar to the way it would be used in a musical,” Jones says, “the rule in a musical being that you only sing when words cannot suffice to express the emotion.” Glick calls the natural presence of music in the play “like wallpaper.”
The four talk about how their current, varied theatrical careers differ from what they originally envisioned for themselves. Glick reveals he “wanted to be a Disney pop star. That was my first goal: I wanted to be, like, Hilary Duff, Lindsay Lohan. And I thought I was going to be doing musicals predominantly.” Instead, at first, he predominantly found himself doing plays (though he segued into prominent roles in Spring Awakening and Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark). Likewise, Jones — who has made a strong impression in rock-infused musicals like Passing Strange, American Idiot and Hedwig and the Angry Inch — talks about her upbringing in a musical household where she emphatically “wanted to be a singer. I wanted to make albums.”
In their chat with host Rebecca Milzoff, the foursome also touch on their mutual love of Celine Dion, their backstage singalongs, how Broadway has evolved to accommodate and embrace unique voices such as their own, and how their shared musical backgrounds have informed their ensemble chemistry. “There’s a similar spirit in this cast that’s just so beautiful and easy,” Mendez says.
Listen to the full episode below. Significant Other is playing on Broadway now at the Booth Theatre.