Virtually anywhere Alec Baldwin frequents on the East End, it is tough to go unnoticed. The same could be said of Laurie Metcalf, Tuck Milligan and NBC’s “The Blacklist” star Ryan Eggold—even for a quick trim.
But when they arrive at Guild Hall in East Hampton for rehearsal of “All My Sons”—alongside fellow cast members Bethany Caputo, David McElwee, Caitlin McGee, Cashus Lee Muse, Ben Schnickel and Alicia St. Louis, under the direction of Stephen Hamilton—all egos are checked at the door.
They are there to work.
“I don’t know if anyone in our play watches the show, to be honest. We haven’t talked about it,” Mr. Eggold said of “The Blacklist.” “People at the theater have, though. And I went to Special Effects off Newtown Lane for a haircut, and they all watch the show. It was fun. A guy wanted to get a picture and was just a big fan. I told them to come see the play. I hope they do.”
Staging through Sunday, June 28, “All My Sons” is a classic play with a classic title, according to two-time Obie Award winner Ms. Metcalf, though “a lot of people don’t know the story, as popular and as many times as it’s been produced. So I don’t want to say much about the plot, because that’s what’s so much fun for the audience: watching it all unfold.”
This is what she would say: “All My Sons,” written by Arthur Miller in 1947 and based on a true story, revolves around a very tight-knit family unit dealing with the aftermath of World War II and the toll it takes on them.
“As the relationships start to disintegrate, you feel for every person in the family,” Ms. Metcalf said, who has starred in the production twice. “People, parents and children aren’t what they seem to be. It’s a very emotional, very intense play at times. And it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to be able to put yourself in that situation within the show. It’s very immediate.”
This may be Ms. Metcalf’s third run with “All My Sons,” but it is also a study of firsts. This is her inaugural visit to the East End. She has never worked with Mr. Baldwin, let alone starred opposite him. And, in some ways, the play itself is no longer the same.
“When you revisit any play, different lines will resonate with you differently because of experiences you’ve had since the last time you did it,” she explained. “It’s been a decade since the last time I did it. Your performance can’t help but expand and change, and be influenced by the different changes that have gone on within your own life.”
She laughed to herself, and continued, “Maybe it’s the fact that I’m older this time around. I see more of the humor in the show.”
Mr. Eggold noted that, at times throughout the three-act play, Miller speaks most directly through Chris Keller, his character. The World War II veteran is introspective and nurturing, he said, and the actor often considers him as “the guard dog on the porch.”
“He’s very earnest, which I think I’m guilty of myself,” he said. “He’s very compassionate, which I can relate to. And he’s also fervently seeking the truth. He struggles with this disillusionment of the world, in terms of wanting to believe the best of everyone, and then the reality of that not being the case all the time. That’s something I think everyone can relate to—wanting the world, or other people, to be perfect or a certain way, and not having that.”
Theater was Mr. Eggold’s first love—someday, he aspires to portray Brick in Tennessee Williams’s “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” and the title character of “Danny and the Deep Blue Sea” by John Patrick Shanley—ever since his first acting class, when he was 12 or 13 years old, he recalled, not far from his childhood home in Southern California.
“My mom said I came home from that first day of class and was, like, ‘They wanted me to do all the things I get in trouble for at school!’” he laughed. “It was the best day ever.”
He was the definition of a class clown—constantly craving attention, fueling his need to entertain by doing anything for a laugh. He idolized the stars he saw on stage and on screen—including Mr. Baldwin.
“Oh, man, he treats you like a king,” Mr. Eggold gushed. “He’s such a great guy. He’s one of my favorite actors since forever. He always has such great thoughts—he’s very analytical about the work. I’m working on seeing him as my dad, trying to further personalize him. It’s been really great.”
Chris Keller is a radical departure from covert operative Tom Keen, whom Mr. Eggold portrays on “The Blacklist,” currently in the development stages of season three. “I would tell you if I knew anything,” he said. “There’s whiteboards full of notes, and they’re changing everything all around. I’m very curious to see what happens myself. I know it’s going to be good. They’re hiring some new writers.”
But before filming, he’s off to France for a much-needed getaway, he said. “I’m going on vacation for the first time in forever,” he said—though, lying in a hammock surrounded by trees, taking a break from “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” by Robert M. Pirsig, he reconsidered. “This is almost vacation. I don’t want to leave East Hampton. It’s so lovely. I’m not just saying that—it’s so freaking pretty and quiet. It’s great.”
After hanging up the phone, he planned to read for a bit longer, soaking up the last rays of sun before heading inside to cook dinner with his co-stars Mr. McElwee and Ms. McGee. And then, he would call it a night, resting up for three weeks of performances—and feeling, he said, one part anxious, one part terrified and, most substantially, one part excited.
“All My Sons” will stage on Tuesdays through Sundays at 8 p.m. at Guild Hall in East Hampton. The final performance on Sunday, June 28, will be held at 3 p.m. There is no performance on Wednesday, June 17. Tickets range from $25 to $150, or $23 to $145 for members. Win 10 premium tickets to the play and dine with Alec Baldwin after the show on Saturday, June 28, at The 1770 House in East Hampton. Bids begin at $10,000. Proceeds will benefit Guild Hall and its year-round programming.