Curtain time is unmerciful. Everything in an actor’s life gets structured around the hour when they have to walk on stage in front of the paying customers and give everything of themselves. When they eat, when they sleep, how much they exercise, is all carefully regulated. They listen deeply and intently to one another each night, looking for the differences that fuel the live experience, keeping it fresh for both themselves and the audience.
For Phil McGlaston, carefully managing this process is what leads to success. McGlaston is making his second appearance at Long Wharf Theatre, playing Constable Warren in the season opening Our Town. He was critically acclaimed as Bono in last season’s production of Fences. “It’s an honor that they would offer me a chance to come back,” McGlaston said of Our Town.
McGlaston started the way many actors do – performing in school plays up through high school, living in Massachusetts. When he got to college in Boston, he thought that being a business major would be a good move. Still, he kept getting sucked into the theatre department. A few rough grades in business classes prompted a canny advisor to tell him to pursue what he really loved, and since then McGlaston has spent his life on stage.
There have been some quiet times – any kind of security in show business is a rarity, he says – but McGlaston has been single minded in his quest. “I waited some tables, but there was always something going on,” he said.
He believes that you can guide a career in some respects. One can strive towards the kind of material you want to work on. For example, McGlaston aspires to appear more frequently on screen. On stage, the works of August Wilson are a favorite, but what he would really like to do is tackle a new play. “I’d like to do something that hasn’t been done before,” McGlaston said.
Until the next big thing comes along, McGlaston will immerse himself in the small but important role of Constable Warren, the gentle town cop tucking Grover’s Corners into bed every night.
— Steve Scarpa