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BWW Interview: Eva Noblezada & Reeve Carney Talk HADESTOWN

BWW Interview: Eva Noblezada & Reeve Carney Talk HADESTOWN
Eva Noblezada and Reeve Carney

This Winter sees the London premiere of Anaïs Mitchell's acclaimed Hadestown at the National Theatre, before it makes its way back to the US and onto Broadway.

We spoke to talk to the lovers themselves during rehearsals, Orpheus and Eurydice. Reeve Carney returns to the production, while Eva Noblezada joins it anew.

With the National Olivier being the largest venue the show has played to date, the two share how the revolves are helping to tell the story, how else the show has changed, and Broadway audiences vs. West End ones.

What's your earliest memory of theatre?

Reeve Carney: For me, it was seeing Cats on Broadway when I was four. I was blown away with the orchestration actually, even as a child.

Eva Noblezada: Mine was also feline! I saw The Lion King when I was nine at the Minskoff. And I remember the moment the animals come down the aisles, I looked at my aunt and I said, "I want to do this when I grow up".

And now I am! And this show is unlike any other musical I've ever seen or been a part of...all two that I've been a part of! It's so beautiful to witness the storytelling that we're able to share with audiences, especially at the freaking National.

Have either of you two seen anything at the National before?

Eva Noblezada: We saw Antony and Cleopatra last night in the Olivier, which was incredible. I actually got a bit emotional, just seeing what the stage could do and being in the audience and thinking, "Oh my God, we're going to be on the other side soon!"

Reeve Carney: Plus, the Olivier will be the largest venue that this show has played. I don't know what the show's plan for the future is, if this is the general size they're aiming for. But it feels like a really nice space.

How do you think the show will sit in that space and help to tell the story?

Reeve Carney: We use the Olivier's drum revolve quite a bit, in a way which doesn't feel superfluous. It's not there as a distraction; it's there to support the story, like you say, to help it.

And since day one, we've been able to use the revolves in rehearsals. That's let us really feel comfortable with them, to such an extent that it makes the space, that world feel like it's living and breathing.

Eva Noblezada: It creates seamless storytelling. Normally in shows, it transitions from scene to scene. But it's a huge part of the show.

BWW Interview: Eva Noblezada & Reeve Carney Talk HADESTOWN
André De Shields in Hadestown

You're returning to Hadestown, Reeve. What drew you to the project and brought you back to it?

Reeve Carney: I was aware of the project a while ago, with the workshops. But the timing didn't quite work out, so I'm thrilled to be on board. It's nice to feel like you're a part of something in the process of its creation.

One thing that drew me to the show more than anything was the score. I grew up playing blues and jazz. And with this, you might not know it as much from the original concept album, but it's such a swampy, bluesy, jazzy score.

It's almost a year since the Citadel run. How much has the show been in your head?

Reeve Carney: It's definitely there...somewhere! Anaïs Mitchell's music and lyrics are so beautiful, you can't help but keep it in there. It's haunting.

But practically speaking, part of blues and jazz score means I have to play the tenor guitar (which I had never played). And I haven't touched it since last year, because I don't own a tenor guitar...yet! I might have to buy one after this, because it's a beautiful instrument.

It's tuned like a viola, so it's quite different than anything I'm used to being a guitarist. It's a 1950s Gibson and it's the instrument we consider to be closest to a traditional lyre.

How did your involvement come about, Eva?

Eva Noblezada: I knew they were doing a music workshop, and in prepping for the audition I listened to the vinyl, and I obviously became obsessed with it.

Then I did the music workshop in March this year (that was only two weeks). But it's crazy: even in workshop, we were stood with music stands and we didn't have any staging in New York, and it felt so alive.

And returning to London, sometimes I have to pinch myself. I feel like a child, because I wear my work pass all the way from home to the National, just because I'm so proud.

How familiar were you both with the tale of Orpheus and Eurydice?

Reeve Carney: I knew very little to begin with. And there's certainly a lot I've learned in the process. I'm hoping we can tell the story in a way that sheds light into different corners of that myth, that people may not have considered before.

Eva Noblezada: I love Greek mythology and the ancient myths. I knew about Orpheus and I knew about Hades and Persephone, but I didn't know about Eurydice at all.

So what were your impressions of Eurydice then?

Eva Noblezada: Well, they've really turned the sass up on my character this time round, which I will never complain about, because I love being a sassy girl on stage! She's definitely a badass.

But when I first read the music, I was under the impression that Eurydice was the...I'm not going to say victim, but 'victim' of the story. Now it's very clear to me that she makes a decision, which is exciting.

BWW Interview: Eva Noblezada & Reeve Carney Talk HADESTOWN
Reeve Carney and Eva Noblezada
in Hadestown

How would you describe the relationship between the two?

Eva Noblezada: There are such beautiful love songs in the show. But now, they've made the storytelling and the music and the way we approach our characters in a way which makes our falling in love a lot more relatable.

So when people watch us on stage they don't go, "Oh, it's so tragic" or "It's so passionate". It's, "I know how that feels. That's love."

You mentioned there will be some changes. Can you share any with us?

Eva Noblezada: Can I say this? I'm going to say it...there's a naked scene!

(I'm joking!)

That's what the revolve is for!

Eva Noblezada: Exactly, a slow reveal so people can just see from every angle! No, no! What can we say without revealing too much...?

Reeve Carney: I'd say even for people who have heard the cast recording or seen other productions, they're going to see a totally new show at the National.

We have changes to orchestrations, lyrics, scenes, everything! And we begin teching Friday and we're still making changes, that's exciting. I have a page in my pocket right now with one of my final songs in the show, with notes scribbled all over it!

Eva Noblezada: We've definitely thickened the plot with something people don't realise is there, just from hearing the cast recording. So when they see it in person they'll go, "Oh, that makes sense!"

One word of the show that I think people will realise is very present is "cosmic". That's a word that is used a lot in rehearsal and it's very obvious that it's a definitive word of the show.

How do you think Hadestown will play to UK audiences?

Eva Noblezada: First off, I found US audiences and UK audiences with Miss Saigon so different. Can I say a funny difference?

Reeve Carney: Go on!

Eva Noblezada: No one in England wears a baseball cap in the theatre.

Reeve Carney: Thank goodness!

Eva Noblezada: Do you know how many times the scrim would come up on Broadway and I'd feel like going, "Sir, yes you in D28. Are you wearing a baseball cap?!"

But I know audiences in America love going to the theatre and feeling something. I feel like in the West End, audiences go to witness something. And sometimes when they leave touched, it can be surprising for them, which is a good thing.

Hadestown will have them leaving the theatre feeling like they've been floating amongst the constellations, because that's what I feel like after every rehearsal.

BWW Interview: Eva Noblezada & Reeve Carney Talk HADESTOWN
Amber Gray in Hadestow

Can you share what you've been up to in rehearsals today?

Eva Noblezada: Today was sitzprobe and I'm still buzzing about hearing the band for the first time.

Reeve Carney: To finally hear those orchestrations in the room, those beautiful orchestrations that underscore the emotional tone. A lot of them have changed for this version.

Will the band be on stage with you?

Eva Noblezada: That's a secret!

Reeve Carney: And you know with that blues and jazz, in our staging at the National we're in an old, smoky jazz club in New Orleans. And being in a New Orleans jazz bar, you never know what to expect...

Speaking of what to expect, why should audiences come to Hadestown at the National?

Reeve Carney: It's a love song. The whole show is like one love song.

Eva Noblezada: I would say this: England has no idea what is about to hit them! This music, this energy, the storytelling. You will massively regret it if you don't come.

Hadestown at the National Theatre until 26 January, 2019

Photo credit: Seamus Ryan (1) and Helen Maybanks (2, 3, 4)

Hear more from Reeve and Eva in person in the National's talk on 19 November

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