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Exploring Edmonton with Reeve Carney

by Leah Paterson

We caught up with actor/musician Reeve Carney (Penny Dreadful, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark) to chat about his experience staying in Edmonton and performing to sold out audiences during the Citadel's production of Hadestown. I know. We were excited too.

Edmonton is buzzing, and no, we're not talking about all the streetlights clicking on at 4:18 pm. Our city has been entranced by a mythic tale of the underworld, and (spoiler alert) there's no turning back. Hadestown just finished its run at the Citadel Theatre, hot off the heels of its premiere at The New York Theatre Workshop, and your next chance to see it may be on Broadway.

The show ended its only run outside of NYC last Sunday to a sold-out house in Edmonton. The play pairs the classic Greek myth of Orpheus (played by Reeve Carney) and Eurydice (played by T.V. Carpio) with the pulsating rhythms of hot New Orleans jazz—an unlikely, but captivating combination courtesy of folk singer and creator Anaïs Mitchell. As part of Daryl Cloran’s first season of programming at The Citadel, it’s the kind of risk-taking that Edmonton has become known for. The show is studded with exceptional tunes, and performances that make you want to take up residence in the underworld (and audiences did just that). Not only did the production play to sold out houses and repeat visits, an inspired crowd and electric word-of-mouth caused two extra shows to be added to the final weekend.

Productions don’t just turn up on Broadway like a plucky kid with a big voice and an even bigger heart. There is often a lengthy process of working and reworking, sometimes involving runs in regional theatres to fine-tune the blocking, script, and score. When Daryl Cloran saw a packed performance of Hadestown at the New York Theatre Workshop back in May 2016, he jumped at the chance to bring the musical up North.

Photo Credit: David Cooper Photography

International performers and Canadian talent came together for the Edmonton incarnation of the production, that not only provided an opportunity for the show to be refined before heading to the Great White Way, but an opportunity for local theatre artists to work with Broadway legends and Tony Nominees. Among the cast is New York born actor/musician Reeve Carney, who you may know from his role as Dorian Gray in Showtime’s Penny Dreadful, or as a young Ishmael Chambersin Scott Hicks’ Snow Falling on Cedars.

Reeve’s first major role in live theatre was as Peter Parker, who he played for three years in Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark on Broadway. As a Broadway debut, Spiderman is as big as it gets with intricate sets, high flying stunts, and the largest budget in Broadway history. For his most recent act, however, he's playing the role of Orpheus in Hadestown, a gritty, intimate production that breaks the theatre-mold and the fourth wall.

For the last couple months, Reeve has called downtown Edmonton home and couldn't say enough good things about his experience.

“I can’t wait to come back. I’m shocked that I had not heard anything specific about Edmonton. It’s a really vibrant city, there is so much to do.”

Exploring the city for Reeve has meant scouting out new restaurants, with a post-show wind down that usually involves a quick walk over to Sabor or Bodega for tapas and a good glass of wine (he recommends the Baron De Ley Rioja Reserva). Grilled Piri Piri prawns, patatas bravas and a five-tomato salad with Italian burrata and balsamic vinaigrette are some late night go-tos, that Reeve says are even inspiring him to find new places to eat when he returns to New York. Woodwork (just a block from the Citadel) was among his other favourite hang-outs, where you can find cocktails like the Plantation, featuring matcha, egg white, and lime.

Like his character Orpheus, Reeve is a musician. And a skilled one at that. Last year, he released his full-length studio album “Youth is Wasted”, where he plays every instrument on the record. He even dropped in at Rocky Mountain Icehouse while in town to play a set with a friend’s band. He credits his musicianship (and night-owl tendencies) to his mother, who started taking him to blues clubs in New York City when he was just fourteen years old to learn from the greats.

“It was really smart of her. It's like learning a language,” Reeve recalls. “The best thing to do is be immersed in it rather than learning in a class.”

The Edmonton arts scene has been exposing locals and tourists to the language of theatre for years, thanks to major houses like the Citadel Theatre and Mayfield Dinner Theatre, festivals like the Fringe, and indie companies who don’t hold back when it comes to innovation. The Citadel itself is home to three resident companies: Rapid Fire Theatre, Catalyst Theatre and Theatre Yes who create everything from plays performed in working elevators, to award winning musicals about Edgar Allan Poe. The success of productions like Hadestown prove that Edmonton audiences are hungry for more.

While we chatted with Reeve he noted that “it's been a really wonderful audience; I think anyone in the cast would say that. Really, a great listening audience, and there’s really not much more you can ask for as a performer.”

Maybe it's that theatre in Edmonton is as entrenched into the city as the North Saskatchewan River or perhaps that out of the Canadian family hierarchy, Edmonton is the tattooed kid who went to art school. Either way, it's safe to say that the Citadel isn't the only instance where this type of respect and captivation can be found.

You may have missed Hadestown’s run in Alberta's capital, but The Citadel isn’t done yet. Daryl Cloran and the team have an exciting line up of comedy, tragedy, and even some aerial acrobatics coming your way.

“Our season is off to such an incredible start! I was so excited to see how thrilled Edmonton audiences were by Hadestown - many people returned to see the production two or three times! We have so many great productions still to come this season, including the Pulitzer-Prize winning drama, The Humans; the non-stop disco-sensation, Mamma Mia; and a beautiful new Indigenous musical called Children of God. We’ve also commissioned Edmonton’s own Mieko Ouchi to “reboot” the Robin Hood legend in her brand new play The Silver Arrow, which features aerial arts from Edmonton’s Firefly Circus and music composed by Hawksley Workman! We’re just getting started, and hope Edmonton will join us for the rest of our fantastic season!” – Daryl Cloran, Artistic Director, The Citadel Theatre.

For more information and tickets to The Citadel’s 2017/2018 season, click here.