Word From the Webs
Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark, director-writer-designer Julie Taymor's $65 million musical extravaganza now at Broadway's Foxwoods Theatre, is one of the most talked about theatrical experiences in the history of American theatre. And it hasn't even opened yet. (As of this writing, a March 15 opening night is scheduled.) Naturally, we wanted to talk to the show's respective hero and villain, Reeve Carney and Patrick Page, for their inside takes on the show inspired by the Marvel Comics icon.
Reeve Carney: Spidey Speaks
If you think you've been waiting a long time for opening night, Reeve Carney has been involved with this production since 2008. Director Julie Taymor saw his band, Carney, playing a gig and later cast him as Prince Ferdinand in the film of "The Tempest." For Spider-Man, she upped the ante and cast him and the band, which features his brother Zane on guitar. Zane and Carney bassist Aiden Moore actually appear onstage throughout Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark (drummer Jon Epcar plays in the pit).
Carney, who grew up in the West Village and Flatiron neighborhoods of Manhattan, relocated to L.A. as a teen and studied performing arts while the music of the Beatles, Queen and Edgar Winter opened his eyes to rocking out. Starring on Broadway with band-mates and family close at hand, singing the music of Bono and the Edge — these things are not lost on the newcomer who says, "I'm very fortunate because some people don't even get what they dream for. I've gotten more than I've dreamed for."
Okay, Spidey, how is it going?
Good! It's going well. It's nice to be approaching our opening. I'm looking forward to that because it means no more rehearsals.
I know there are various other guys in Spider-Man suits throughout the show, but I was surprised how much physical work you have to do.
It's definitely exciting to me because if I ever do any other film work or whatever, I'm kind of getting stuntman training in this show. Maybe I'll be an action star.
In those moments when it is you soaring above the crowd, what is it like to be looking down on the people below? Or are you strictly concentrating on controlling your flight?
I'm definitely trying to look at people, but it's a little hard actually seeing their faces with the lights in my face. I'm just trying to let them share in the joy of the experience of flying because it's really fun.
You are a rock 'n' roller in a comic-book show about a bookworm who becomes a superhero. Is it fair to say you have a little inner geek about you, or are you more like a good-looking guy that they've "nerded up" as Peter Parker?
I appreciate you saying I'm good looking [laughs]. I would say that I'm a geek about certain things; not so much science, but you get me talking about the curvature of the neck on my guitar or different things that are technically related to my instrument — or amplifiers or pedals — and I get very geeky when it comes to that sort of thing.
You worked earlier with Julie Taymor on "The Tempest." Were you amazed at some of her visual creations for Spider-Man?
Yeah, one of the most exciting visual moments in the show for me, which I think is such a groundbreaking image, is the Chrysler building set. The first time I saw the building — they way they are portraying it in the show — that was pretty wild. I'd never seen anything like that before. That, in particular, was something that I never could have imagined. I don't know how they imagined it; it's crazy.
And what is she like in terms of how she works with you as an actor?
She's great. She knows when to give you very detailed advice and also knows when to speak more in broad strokes. It's different because I was so new [to acting] when I did "The Tempest," and now I have more experience. I'm still pretty green with this whole thing, but I have more experience after doing it night after night on Broadway. She and I communicate very well together. I guess we just have the common denominator of being artists who want to push things to exciting extremes. I feel that way when I'm making music with my band, and she feels that way with anything that she does.
At what point in the creation of Spider-Man did you realize it was going to get a lot of attention for things beyond the show itself?
I knew that this show was big news before I signed on to do it, but it seemed to have this snowball effect. In terms of media attention, it's generally a positive thing. Having awareness [about the show] at all ends up helping in some ways. Our friend Chris Tierney, who was injured [in a fall] in December, he's going to be back in the show in about two weeks. I'm so happy about that. He's been doing really, really well. It's great that the unfortunate circumstances seem to have a light at the end of the tunnel.
|photo by Jacob Cohl|
Do you think the shows trials bonded people in the cast and crew?
Definitely. I think those moments end up testing you, especially as a community and as a unit. Thankfully it didn't break us; it just made us stronger. That's one thing with Chris Tierney's personality. That's what he wanted for us even when he was in his hospital bed. He has a great, positive spirit, so that helped us all move forward.
Did you ever give in to anger about it — at people who were not on the inside of the show, but offered opinions anyway?
No, I don't think I ever got too angry about that. But it is funny…one of the most frequently asked questions I have from people who find out that I'm in the Spider-Man musical, playing Spider-Man, [is] "Oh, are you the guy that fell or are you the understudy?" I'm like, "Uh, neither?" It's so funny, but there are definitely some misconceptions out there, that's for sure.
You grew up in New York and have parents who were artistic — and musicians. Were they your biggest artistic influences?
Oh yeah, my dad was an English literature major at Yale. He graduated from Yale and then he went into music, and my mom has, crazily enough, trained in vocal performance and music theatre for the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. They are both trained in different ways. My mom is a very trained musician. She met my dad when they were songwriters in the '70s, and then my dad became a jingle writer and my mom shifted her focus more to jewelry design, which is what she does now. I guess I do come from a family of artists. In the '70s, my mom was asked by Bob Dylan to be a backup singer on his Rolling Thunder Revue tour, but she ended up not doing that because she just met my dad. But if she had, I might have been Jakob Dylan! [Laughs.]
To have your band in the show with you, that's got to be a comfort.
It's so great. I'm very thankful for everyone in the production for being open-minded and actually hiring my band. Even to consider it was very kind of [the producers]. It's great because it's actually kept our band together, which allows us to do what we did at the Bowery Ballroom recently. Thanks to the publicity that we're getting from this show, we sold out the gig. We opened for someone else there about eight months ago. To have our own sold-out, headlining show there was just very exciting. I'm looking forward to more of it.
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