For Glasgow-born actor David McCallum, who opens on Thursday as Pastor Manders in the Roundabout Theater's revival of Henrik Ibsen's "Ghosts," the problem is one of bringing a conspicuously Victorian character into contemporary focus. "He seems outrageously old-fashioned now," says the 55-year-old
actor, whose father was once the first violinist with the London Philharmonic, "but when Ibsen wrote the play, Manders was the norm of the late 1890s, and Mrs. Alving was the radical and the free-thinker. Audiences identify easily with her now, and I've got to find a way to play Manders so that his dogma is acceptable. I don't have it yet, but I'll get it."
At the Roundabout, where the direction of "Ghosts" has recently been taken over by Stuart Vaughan, Mrs. Alving will be played by Irish actress Fionnula Flanagan and her son, Oswald, by Raphael Sbarge, who, earlier this season, scored as Eugene O'Neill's youthful surrogate in Arvin Brown's revival of "Ah, Wilderness!"
For McCallum, who has lived in New York for some 20 years, "Ghosts" is his first brush with both Ibsen and the Roundabout.