Carney recently dropped by MTV News HQ to chat about opening night, how the show has changed from its initial run, and what was going through his head when every day seemed to bring more negative attention for "Turn Off The Dark."
"Opening night was special because it was easy to make it fresh," he said when asked about whether it was easy to make opening night special after such a long preview run. "When you do a long run of a show — funny enough, even though we just opened it has been a pretty long running show — you struggle to find ways to keep it fresh."
Despite a crowd that included such notables as former U.S. President Bill Clinton, Carney said he was more excited than nervous — especially since the current incarnation of the show was still relatively new to him. The production underwent a massive overhaul just over a month earlier after almost seven months of preview performances, with a new writing team brought on and former director Julie Taymor replaced.
"It feels like an entirely new show," he explained. "Probably 95 percent of my dialogue has changed in this new version, and it's been a great thing, because the language now takes care of more of the propulsion of the story, which I think is very necessary in a theater this size. People can't always see the expression on your face, they need to hear it in your words. This version of the show is focused much more on clarifying the story through the words."
"They'd give me new pages at 6 o'clock, and we'd have to put them into the show that night at 7:30 or 8 o'clock," he said of the flurry of changes the show experienced over the last few months.
Fortunately, things appear to have changed for the better, and "Turn Off The Dark" has begun earning its way back into the good graces of audiences and critics with its new incarnation. Along with a slate of more even-handed reviews, the original cast recording and its first single, "Rise Above 1," were released last week, and things have settled down enough for Carney to return to the passion that first earned him the attention of the show's creators: his band.
Reeve and his band, Carney, will play their first show since February at The Bowery Ballroom in New York City next month (July 25) — something he sees as an indication that things are starting to smooth out after a rough bunch of months.
"I just thought to myself in the midst of the madness, I'm here to do a job," he said of the weeks when every day seemed to bring a new injury, bad review, or other form of controversy related to the show. "I got hired to this. This is crazy, but I'm going to try and take deep breaths and figure this out. The bottom line was, I'm hired to be an actor and singer on stage, regardless of what's going on with the creative team or script. . . I was just trying to do my job the best I could."
"At times it was hard, because the media surrounding it was often times pretty negative, and it's sometimes hard to do your job that way," he added. "Actually, that sometimes makes it's harder on the audiences. They don't want to feel like idiots. When they read a bad review, they come into the theater a little bit quieter."
Still, Carney credits the negative attention with bringing the cast together and pushing them to give better performances.
"Having all those trials sparked a flame within us to bring our 'A' game more often than we might have otherwise," he said.
The "Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark" cast recording is available now, and includes the single "Rise Above 1." You can find out more about the band Carney and their upcoming shows at their official website.
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- The All-New 'Spider-Man' Musical: What Changed, What Didn't, And Why It's Worth Seeing