For Adam Ross Glickman, the hills are alive with the sound of family discovery.
He is on tour with The Sound of Music, which will stop in Philadelphia at the Merriam Theater from April 24 to 29, and he has been able to make connections to his own family story as he visits across the country.
His maternal grandparents were Holocaust survivors and, while on tour, Glickman has learned more about his family’s past through resources in other states. For instance, with the help of a specialist at an archive in Salt Lake City, he found a missing piece of what happened to his grandfather’s family.
His grandfather had a wife and children in Poland who perished in Holocaust, though he made it to America. Glickman learned through the archive that there was a transport from his town, Wolomin, to Treblinka. The last time his grandfather heard from his wife, who said the kids were going on a vacation or to camp, was in August 1942, which he found was when the last transport was listed.
“That kind of pieced together something for my mother and for myself,” said Glickman, a singer/songwriter who has found an outlet writing music while on tour.
His grandmother made it to England and then America via Kindertransport, as did her siblings, though her parents perished.
The two eventually met in Brooklyn at the butcher shop where he worked after being set up by Glickman’s grandmother’s sister.
“This journey with The Sound of Music has led me on all these other things of discovery with my own family roots, and I’m so grateful for this experience,” said Glickman, a Fort Lauderdale-area native.
On stage, however, he represents a different side of history. In the show, Glickman plays Herr Zeller — a prominent Nazi officer.
Though Glickman of course does not believe the views his character holds, he has enjoyed playing Zeller and crafting the character.
“This is a story that’s being told, and this is a man who is on a mission and believes what he believes — for whatever reason that may be,” Glickman said. “Obviously, the belief system is so far different from who I am, so it’s almost a thrill to play every night.”
That doesn’t mean it doesn’t weigh on him sometimes, but like any actor, he leaves his personal life behind the curtain.
“I focus on the work and the craft and the story rather than letting any of my personal vendettas dig into it, I should say,” he said. “There have been days where I’ve walked on stage and I’ve said what I’ve said, and I wanted to walk off and take a shower.”
His character’s personal beliefs aside, Glickman is excited to be a part of the show and tell the story, which he said has contemporary relevance in today’s political climate.
The characters’ journeys of finding themselves and sticking up for their beliefs — like Maria and Captain Von Trapp — is a timeless human experience.
“All of this is happening today. There is still hate in the world that people need to rise up against,” he said. “Every single person on this planet, I believe, every day is working toward finding their own journey and that is something that is timeless and that is a deep part of the story that is told.”
His own journey with theater started when he was in elementary school and had first given sports a shot. Instead, he recalled with a laugh, he was the kid on the soccer field doing cartwheels and and crying because he couldn’t handle the fierce competition and how aggressive sports were.
He found a home with the choir in elementary school and followed his passion for performing arts throughout school, earning himself the title of Best Actor in Florida and an invite to the Jimmy Awards in New York City.
Following in the footsteps — or fins — of alumni Sierra Boggess and Jodi Benson, who played Ariel in The Little Mermaid on stage and screen respectively, he earned a degree in musical theater from Millikin University in Illinois.
“I wanted to be a mermaid, so I went to Millikin University,” he laughed.
A few years after graduating and making the move to New York but not working as much on stage, he wanted to get back into performing. So he booked a seven-month gig with a cruise line that took him to 22 countries — including a stop in Poland where he visited a concentration camp.
“At that specific moment in time, you walk into this camp and you could think any of these shoes that are sitting here could be my half-aunts and -uncles. Not my great-aunts and -uncles — literally my aunts and uncles,” he marveled. “It’s mind-blowing that generationally, it’s so effervescently present in my life.”
He will get to explore his Jewish identity further this summer when he goes on Birthright. While he attended synagogue growing up and observed the High Holidays, he did not have a Bar Mitzvah, which he is looking forward to doing in Israel.
Until then, he has enjoyed the travel and work he does with the tour, which will include a fundraiser at the bar Franky Bradley’s that Glickman organized. Cast members and musicians will do a cabaret to raise money for the Dreaming Zebra Foundation, which provides arts and music supplies for children in needy communities after April 24th’s performance.
Sound’s contemporary political relevance will resonate with the audience, particularly during act two, he said.
For him, the story’s connection to the Holocaust is particularly apt as a survey recently found 66 percent of millennials cannot say what Auschwitz is.
As a 26-year-old with his own connections to the Holocaust, he found that “disheartening,” though it emphasizes why these stories are so critical to tell.
“It’s such an important piece of history that needs to be discussed and needs to be told so that it will never happen again. That being said, there are many parts of the world where that is happening today in many different facets,” he said with a sigh, citing the ongoing war in Syria. “It’s very important that this story, The Sound of Music — and that is a part of it — as well as every other story affiliated with the Holocaust is told.”
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