THE LEADING MEN: Reeve Carney Takes One Last Swing Through Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark

By Wayman Wong
03 Sep 2013

Reeve Carney
Reeve Carney
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark has survived so many delays, debacles, accidents and legal battles that it's time to truly "marvel" at Reeve Carney's superheroic efforts as its leading man. On Sept. 15, the 6-foot, pop-rock star and actor will leave the multi-million-dollar musical, having sung and swung through over 900 performances as Peter Parker/Spider-Man.

Carney has been cast as Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde's ever-youthful hero, in Showtime's new drama series "Penny Dreadful." Created by Tony winner John Logan (Red), it will interweave the stories of "Frankenstein," "Dracula" and "The Picture of Dorian Gray."

Carney, 30, got his first big break as an actor when he was discovered by Julie Taymor at the Mercury Lounge. The Tony-winning director of The Lion King cast him as Prince Ferdinand in her 2010 film of Shakespeare's The Tempest and then hand-picked him to make his Broadway debut in Spider-Man and head a company of 148. She raved, "The music of Bono and the Edge requires an extraordinary talent. Not only is Reeve a great rock-and-roll singer, but his acting is equally fresh and authentic."

With a book co-written by Glen Berger, Taymor spun a tale about Stan Lee and Steve Ditko's comic-book teen who gets bitten by a radioactive arachnid. But what a tangled web of controversy it wove. After a record-breaking 182 previews, Spider-Man finally opened June 14, 2011. And thanks to his strength and stamina, no one had a better view as a fly on the wall than Carney.



Matthew James Thomas, who originally played Peter Parker at the matinees and now stars in Pippin, added, "Reeve is so talented and inspirational. It was terrific to hear him sing those songs by Bono and the Edge and he influenced me greatly. It was fun to share the role with him. He was a leader of the company and so respectful (of everyone). He's incredible!"

Congrats on your long run in Spider-Man. How's it going?

Reeve Carney: I'm just coming from a workout, and I hate workouts.

Isn't doing Spider-Man enough of a workout?

 RC: There are so many things I love about Spider-Man, and one is you get paid to keep in shape. But I'm leaving the show to play Dorian Gray, so I have to work out even more. I'm training an extra five hours and working on a British dialect. The role is as far away from Peter Parker as you can get, so I'm excited to explore that. And Eva Green, Josh Hartnett and Timothy Dalton are in the cast. It was a hard decision to make, but it was a good time to take a break.

Carney in Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark.
photo by Jacob Cohl

Not too many Broadway stars stick with their show for over three years. You've said that Spider-Man allows you to "act, sing and fly — the trifecta." What made you stay?

RC: A lot of things. This character allows me to reach for the highest versions of myself. And I don't mean this stage character of Peter Parker, but his character within. His code of ethics. I like to think of myself as a progressive thinker, but I have an old-fashioned sense of morality. I like to believe the best in people and that no one's intrinsically evil, which is why I relate to Peter. That's how he treats the Green Goblin. And I relate to Spider-Man because he wants to make the world a better place.

Despite all the setbacks, did you ever want to quit? Ever have any serious accidents?

RC: I never thought of quitting. And thank goodness, I've never been seriously injured. I've been caught hanging (as Spider-Man over the audience), but it's not scary. If you shift your weight in the wrong direction, the rig stops. But it stops for your safety. The longest I've been kept hanging is 10 minutes. It's not bad. You wave at people. Our audiences seem to love it. They root for you.

On Aug. 16, one of your castmates, Daniel Curry, got his foot caught in a stage lift. How is he?

RC: I hear he's doing well. I didn't see it happen; I was taking my Act II bathroom break, running upstairs. But Joe and Jimmy Harris from our stage crew handled it so well. Joe is an EMT and Jimmy is a firefighter, so their quick decisions really helped Daniel.

 Continued...