IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

The show must go on: Broadway actor goes on for female role to save musical

After multiple cast members called out, T. Oliver Reid was the only person in the building able to go on for a role typically played by a female performer.
/ Source: TODAY

One hit Broadway show recently went to extreme measures to ensure the show could go on.

T. Oliver Reid — a theater actor and dancer with a long list of Broadway credits — saved the show at the evening performance of "Hadestown" on Wednesday, March 9, when he stepped into a role typically played by a female performer.

"Hadestown" uses jazz and folk music to tell the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice and includes other mythical characters like Hades, Persephone, Hermes and the Fates. Recently, the musical has been plagued with a rash of company outages.

Reid told TODAY that he wound up playing one of the three Fates — who serve as a sort of Greek chorus for the show's characters — because no one else could do it. (In addition to understudying two leading roles, he's also the show's dance captain.)

"Because I'm dance captain, I teach this stuff in rehearsals or in auditions ... I sing the part in rehearsal," Reid told TODAY. "It was just like, 'Oh, T. can do it.' This is the only way we can make this happen tonight."

Reid told TODAY that even though he knew the part, the hours leading up to Wednesday evening's performance were chaotic: The show's wardrobe supervisor "ran to Macy's" to buy a dress that would fit Reid and suit the role, while the hair supervisor and Reid went to a nearby store to buy makeup.

In a photo shared by the musical on Instagram, Reid smized for the camera next to his castmates Kay Trinidad Karns and Emily Afton, wearing a printed dress, bold eye makeup and deep red lipstick.

"We just pulled everything I needed together," said Reid.

Reid isn't the only performer who stepped into an unusual role at "Hadestown" last week. Cast member Amber Gray — who recently left the show —returned to her role, and another recently departed performer came back to the production for Sunday's matinee.

"It's been pretty amazing. ... It really feels like that sort of grassroots theater thing we all did growing up when it's like, 'Let's put on a show, let's do what we have to do make the show happen,'" Reid said. "And it's felt like that, on a much larger scale, all week from all departments. Everyone was doing everything they could to make this show happen."

"The excitement of it, as much as the fear of it, has been galvanizing. It just is a reminder that theater can be made in a way that still feels magical," he continued.

As exciting as this time has been for the cast and crew of the show, Reid said there's also been excitement and delight from audiences.

"It wasn't until I was walking out onstage (Wednesday) and seeing how certain audience members were. You could see (their) eyes were wide and mouths were open and it felt like people felt like they were being seen," Reid said. "These Fates are gods. That doesn't mean they have to be one gender or another."

Nonbinary actors have stepped into the roles of the Fates as well: According to a spokesperson for the show, Yael “YaYa” Reich, a female-presenting nonbinary actor, stepped into the role several times last year. Tomás Matos, a male-presenting nonbinary actor, was scheduled to perform in the role on Saturday, but an overwhelming amount of illnesses led the production to cancel the shows scheduled for that day.

Reid said that he hopes stories like the one at "Hadestown" will inspire writers and producers to start thinking outside the box when they're creating and casting projects.

"It has to be in the thinking of writers as well. I mean, to really look at a role and say 'Does this need to be female-identifying? Does this role need to be male-identifying? Can this role just be a human being going through these emotions?'" Reid said. "If that starts to happen, then yes, casting and producers and everyone else can look at the swing and covers and say, 'Oh, yeah, we don't have to be as gender-specific about these things. They can be played by anyone.'"