Rachel Sussman and Aaron Glick are Tony Award nominees and producers for What the Constitution Means to Me.
When Rachel Sussman comes home to visit her family in December, the first stop on her agenda is the Fisher Theatre. She’ll attend performances of What the Constitution Means to Me, which runs from Dec. 14, 2021-Jan. 2, 2022. Sussman is a co-producer of the Tony Award-nominated play and Pulitzer Prize finalist.
“I’m really excited that the show that I love so much is coming to my hometown and that Michigan audiences will get to experience it,” says Sussman, who was raised in Bloomfield Township. “This is going to be the first time that I am seeing a show that I co-produced at the Fisher Theatre where I saw shows growing up.”
Written by Heidi Schreck, What the Constitution Means to Me starred Schreck on Broadway and has Schreck telling the story of her 15-year-old self who traveled across the country to compete in Constitutional debate competitions and win money to pay for her college tuition.
Having given birth to twin girls last year, Schreck will not reprise her role on the national tour. Cassie Beck (I Know What You Did Last Summer and The Humans on Broadway) will take on the comedic and poignant role that traces how the Constitution shaped the lives of four generations of women and the next generation of Americans.
Sussman first saw a New York Theatre Workshop production of What the Constitution Means to Me in the fall of 2018.
“I have a very distinct memory of that day because I watched the Brett Kavanaugh [Supreme Court confirmation] hearings and was understanding his abuse and treatment of women and hearing Christine Ford testify. I went to the play that night, and I remember how painfully resonant it felt. The story is so beautifully personal that it’s universal. I left the theater feeling so overwhelmed. It stayed with me in a powerful way,” Sussman said.
When she heard that What the Constitution Means to Me was going to Broadway, she called the three lead producers, Aaron Glick, Diana DiMenna and Matt Ross, and said that she wanted to be a co-producer.
“I just knew that if I wasn’t a part of it, I would regret it,” says Sussman, who became a co-producer along with her partners JJ Maley and Cori Stolbun.
Sussman became friends with Glick when she interned at 321 Theatrical Management the summer of 2011, just prior to her senior year at NYU Tisch School of the Arts. Glick was working as a Broadway producer in the same building at Stone Productions, which oversees Wicked, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Next to Normal, If/Then and War Paint, to name a few.
From Actor to Producer
Glick grew up in Lafayette, Indiana, where his family still lives. During the pandemic, Glick and his husband, Nick Coburn, and Glick’s family purchased and saved The Pink Walrus Frozen Yogurt shop, which they operate in Lafayette. While running businesses and addressing the logistics, artistic aspects, finances and COVID compliance and safety issues of Broadway productions is now Glick’s forte, it didn’t start out that way in Lafayette.
“I was a theater and music show choir kid,” says Glick, who attended Marymount Manhattan College with the intent of majoring in acting. “But, by junior year, I wasn’t feeling it anymore. The joy of being on stage was overshadowed by my interest in the production details.”
So, he switched majors to Theater Studies and focused on getting a career in the business of theater. His first job after graduating in 2006 was as a talent agent. And then he heard about a dream, but low-paying, internship working with prolifically successful Broadway Producer David Stone on Wicked.
“I cashed in my bar mitzvah bonds so that I’d have enough money to pay three months of rent,” Glick says about the Manhattan apartment he shared with three roommates.
At the end of the three-month internship, Stone offered Glick a “real position” as Stone’s assistant where Glick has now worked for 15 years building an impressive producer resume of shows with Stone and some of his own with other producers, including What the Constitution Means to Me.
Tony Awards Nominees
While Sussman and Glick had both previously attended the Tony Awards, 2019 was the first time they were attending the Tonys as Best Play nominees for What the Constitution Means to Me. Glick was also nominated in a second producing category for Best Revival of a Play for The Boys in the Band.
“It was amazing to be there for both shows, especially since Boys in the Band had already been closed for a year and it honored the 50th anniversary revival of [playwright] Mart Crowley, of blessed memory,” said Glick who earned his first Tony Award for Boys in the Band.
“You don’t produce shows to win awards. But just being nominated helped extend the run for What the Constitution Means to Me at the Broadway box office, and it was very profitable,” Glick adds.
What the Constitution Means to Me had been on the national tour in Chicago when all shows were shut down due to the pandemic in March 2020. It resumed touring on Sept. 30, 2021, in Minneapolis. Detroit’s Fisher Theatre will be the fourth stop for the three-week limited engagement.
“What the Constitution Means to Me is a relevant piece of theater that will never go out of style. The audience will always have a new way of experiencing it depending on what’s happening in the world around us,” Sussman says.
“Like now with Texas and the abortion issues. We will always be fighting for our rights and civil liberties and look at how the Constitution protects us.”
When Glick married Coburn on Aug. 18, 2017, they had a small ceremony at City Hall in NYC followed by a fun “half-Jewish gay wedding” at the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn where Glick’s dad explained the tenets of Jewish law to the wedding guests. Glick and Coburn, who is nondenominational, made their own ketubah.
“It was very important for us to get that paper in a federal building and honor legal gender,” Glick says.
When What the Constitution Means to Me officially opened on Broadway on April 2, 2019, Coburn posted on Facebook: “What does the Constitution mean to me? Well, to start, a 5-4 Supreme Court ruling centered on the 14th Amendment gave me the federal right to marry Aaron Glick.”
“The one thing we found with What the Constitution Means to Me is that no matter when you see it, the show is always going to be timely,” says Glick. “The way that [playwright] Heidi Schreck treats the text of the Constitution and the world of law is exactly the way we’re taught as Jews to examine the biblical text in the Talmud and have it connect to our personal lives.”
As they navigate successful careers as producers, Sussman and Glick continue to be good friends, colleagues and mentors, including both being recipients of the prestigious Prince Fellowship for producing new works. The project Glick developed with his 2013 Prince Fellowship is the new musical Eighty-Sixed, about one man’s journey during the AIDS epidemic, which will have its world premiere in May 2022 at San Diego’s Diversionary Theater. Sussman’s project, developed over the last seven years, with additional support from her 2019 Prince Fellowship, is the new musical SUFFS, which is centered on the American women’s suffrage movement. SUFFS will start performances in March 2022 at The Public Theater in New York City.
“Who would have thought that two nice Jewish kids from the Midwest would end up working together on Broadway?” Sussman always jokes with Glick.
Guess it was beshert.
What the Constitution Means to Me will run Dec. 14, 2021-Jan. 2, 2022, at the Fisher Theatre in Detroit. Tickets for What the Constitution Means to Me start at $25 (includes facility and parking fees) and can be purchased online at ticketmaster.com, by phone at 800-982-2787 and in person at the Fisher Theatre Box Office.
Patrons will be required to show photo identification and proof of a negative COVID test within 72 hours of the performance date or proof of full COVID-19 vaccination. Additionally, all patrons will be required to wear a mask while inside the theater, regardless of one’s vaccination status. For more information, visit www.BroadwayInDetroit.com.