'Sunday in the Park With George': Jake Gyllenhaal on Work Ethic and Channeling Dogs Onstage

Bruce Glikas/Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic
Annaleigh Ashford and Jake Gyllenhaal

"Sometimes, it takes losing connection to create connection," he told THR after the revival's opening-night performance, attended by Cary Joji Fukunaga, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Peter Sarsgaard, Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan and Uzo Aduba.

Thursday at the library with Jake Gyllenhaal and Annaleigh Ashford was a lavish bash for Sunday in the Park With George, which bowed on Broadway at the newly revamped Hudson Theatre.

“My family was here tonight, and I do this show for them every night,” Gyllenhaal told The Hollywood Reporter at the opening-night party, held at the New York Public Library. “And I have a new family in this cast, crew and orchestra. This show is very special to me.”

Gyllenhaal makes his Broadway-musical debut in the revival of the Pulitzer Prize-winning work, which features a score by Stephen Sondheim and book by James Lapine. Sarna Lapine, the niece of the writer and original director, helms the production, which contemplates the solitude and sacrifices of making art.

“I do relate to George, maybe too much — fortunately or unfortunately,” Gyllenhaal explained of his work ethic, which sometimes leaves less room for loved ones. “Connection does get hard for all of us who work very hard and love what we do. I feel there’s a period of time in our lives where we have an opportunity: Our bodies work the right way, our minds work the right way, and we can express what we really want to express. Sometimes, it takes losing connection to create connection.”

Ashford agreed and stressed that becoming a mother has given her a new perspective on her work. “I have a little one at home who makes me want to tell good stories that change the world,” she said. “As the show says, ‘There are only two worthwhile things to leave behind when you part this world: children and art.’ ”

Part of this art — which opted to pull its Tony Awards eligibility — sees Gyllenhaal barking at various pitches and crawling around the stage to channel two distinct dogs. His inspirations? “One is my own dog,” he told THR, “and, really, some of our producers are the little dog. I make fun of them when I do that. Jeanine [Tesori] and Riva [Marker] have a little piece of that!”

Cary Joji Fukunaga (who directed the show's music video), Maggie Gyllenhaal, Peter Sarsgaard, Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan, Rosie O’Donnell, Uzo Aduba, Cobie Smulders, Holly Hunter, John Benjamin Hickey, Kate Burton, Gayle King, Jordan Roth, Richie Jackson, Bernadette Peters, Holland Taylor, Fran Drescher and Erin Richards were among those who attended the opening-night performance.

Sunday in the Park With George runs through April 23.

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