Beyond the Stage Door with T. Oliver Reid
This week’s Beyond the Stage Door is with T. Oliver Reid. His Broadway career spans two decades (1999-2019) and he’s not stopping any time soon! His resume includes Thoroughly Modern Mille, Mary Poppins, Sister Act, Once on this Island, Kiss Me, Kate and this year’s 14-time Tony nominated show, Hadestown. He graduated from the University of North Carolina School of the arts as a voice major. Now, he’s one of the top dance captains on Broadway with 13 shows now under his belt and now we’re talking about his career and Hadestown!
What was your first introduction to theatre?
My introduction was the MGM movie musicals ( movies like Singin in the rain, Silk Stockings, The Wizard of Oz) as a child and then I began doing Theatre in my hometown when I was nine years old.
Could you take us through your first couple of years in NYC?
I was transient my first few years… going in and out of town on town, etc. It wasn’t until my third year going back and forth that I got apt and was here full time, temping, and auditioning.
The last show you did on Broadway was Once on this island, what was it like to rebuild the show and create something new with the same material?
It was a full circle moment for me. To revisit the show with my experiences as a mature man as opposed to a fresh face younger man. The lyrics take on a different meaning once life has been lived/experienced.
How would you describe closing a show on broadway?
It goes from heartbreak early in a career to part of the cycle of a show later in a career. Every show closes and we move to the next story.
What’s your audition preparation process like?
Depends on the work and the amount of time I’m given. If there’s a lot of time, I like to really live with the words and allow myself to find my sense of the story. You have to learn how to self-direct and then adapt once you are in front of the actual director. Make strong choices. Have a point of view.
You’ve been working on Broadway going on 20 years, what are some things you wish someone had told you in the beginning of your Broadway career?
SAVE YOUR MONEY!! I should’ve bought a brownstone while I was in my first show… I bought Prada instead and although I still have it, it wasn’t the investment I should’ve made. Invest in your future when you can. And Yes, indulge on occasion. Life is about living.
How did you become one of the resident swings/dance captains on Broadway?
Honestly, I like that the job allows me to play multiple principle roles. To stretch myself and keep my brain active. I’ve also passed the point where I need to be “on” eight shows a week. Some people need that adulation…I don’t. And Broadway needs great swings/covers who can save a show and do it with great ease and finesse.
How do you maintain 8 shows a week (vocally, physically, spiritually)
You get one vessel to work through, Do whatever you need to protect it. You can’t replace vocal cords! SLEEP. LAUGH. EXPERIENCE LIFE.
How would you describe the experience of being in a tony nominated show and tony season?
It’s amazing, it’s what we hope for.
What show from your career would you revive on Broadway today?
I’ve always wanted to revive Shenandoah… with some fixes 😊
What’s your advice to young performers of color in navigating audition rooms and rehearsal spaces?
Know who you are before you enter that room. Everyone will try to change you. Know yourself and what you bring to the table.
You’re moving into and teching Hadestown right now, what drew you to this material? What made you say yes when they offered you the role?
I loved this music the first time I listened to it. I knew it was destined for me.