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Broadway Q&A: Reeve Carney of ‘Hadestown’

Category Broadway

|by Jeryl Brunner |


“If we don’t believe that the world could be different, I don’t believe we have a chance to change it.”

Reeve Carney stars as Orpheus in Hadestown on Broadway. The musical presents a completely unique retelling of the myth of young lovers Orpheus and Eurydice. When Eurydice goes to the underworld, Orpheus follows, hoping he can bring her back to life. However, he needs the permission of King Hades. Nominated for 14 Tony Awards, and a Tony winner for Best Musical, the show features a unique mix of musical genres, from rock to New Orleans jazz. Anaïs Mitchell, who created and wrote Hadestown, first developed the show as a scrappy community theater project in Vermont.

Carney is known for his portrayal of Dorian Gray in Showtime’s Penny Dreadful. He also originated the role of Peter Parker in Julie Taymor and U2’s Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark. On Sept. 22, Oct. 6 and Oct. 20, Carney will perform his original music in the intimate concert venue The Green Room 42.

Reeve Carney as Orpheus, the mythic musician, in ‘Hadestown’ (Photo: Matthew Murphy)

Reeve Carney as Orpheus, the mythic musician, in ‘Hadestown’ (Photo: Matthew Murphy)

How did you first hear about Hadestown?
Reeve Carney: I first heard about Hadestown through a friend, and listened to the album. Then I discovered that Anaïs had been interested in me for the role. At first, I wasn’t certain that I would be the right person for it, because it was all sung in a much lower register than it is now. But a lot of the stuff is quite high. And I love singing in that register. I’m glad that I finally realized it so I could become a part of the show.

Being in Hadestown is so rewarding. I love the score because of my love for New Orleans. I love blues and jazz music in general. It’s a big part of my upbringing. And aside from the music, the libretto drew me to the piece because of the beauty of the story itself.

Why do you love singing in that register?
RC
: I believe it's essential to Orpheus, in terms of distinguishing him from Hades and other characters. But particularly Hades, in a theatrical sense. Also, I grew up listening to a lot of female singers, and also Bobby McFerrin, who sings a lot up there. I have always loved singing in that range.

Do you remember one of the first times you performed?
RC
: I remember playing Pinocchio when I was 11. That was really fun, especially because it involved a lot of falling over onstage. I have always loved doing prat falls and random stunts.

I used to want to be a stunt man when I was a kid. I remember going to Universal Studios in California. They had this thing called The Wild West Stunt Show. I was amazed to see guys who could do these 30-foot falls onto a wooden table, and it would break. I thought, “That is so cool.”

There is such an innocence about Orpheus that feels so genuine.
RC
: That is something new to the Broadway version. It’s one of the most exciting changes for me. He wasn’t quite like that when we did the show in London or in Edmonton. He had more of a vibrato macho energy. I believe taking that away creates a whole different dynamic between Orpheus and all the other characters.  

I would also use the word “guileless” to describe him. Orpheus certainly begins as someone without any guile. I tend to be drawn to people who are like that – who view life in the way it could be. That is actually a line from the show. If we don’t believe that the world could be different than it is, I don’t believe we have a chance to change it.

What is cool about doing your show at The Green Room 42?
RC: It’s fun because there is no script. It's really fun doing a cabaret-type show, or rock concert, because you're totally in control of whatever happens. You can change from moment to moment, which you can’t totally do on stage in a production of a musical. We have a lot of freedom in Hadestown though.

Do you remember the first Broadway show you saw?
RC
: It was Cats in 1987 at the Winter Garden Theater. I was four years old, and my mom took me. We got to sit on the stage in trash cans. That was fun and exciting for me, because the cats would communicate with us on stage. At one point, they saw me eating Milk Duds. At the stage door, they said, “you were the guy with the Milk Duds.” I always wanted to go back again. So we saw it a total of three times on Broadway. Then I saw a revival in London a couple of years ago.

If somebody were to ask, “Why should I see Hadestown?” what would you say?
RC: I would say, if you have ever been in love or you want to be in love, Hadestown is a love song. There are a lot of other things that will get people in the door, but the love story is the most profound aspect to the show.

For more of the best of Broadway this season, check out our list of the Top Shows in New York in September 2019.
 

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