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Theater & Dance

Behind the Scenes of Cirque du Soleil's Broadway Debut

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Jenny Anderson

Performer Reed Kelly gives us a tour of Paramour.

Having dazzled audiences world-wide, Cirque du Soleil now has its sights set on Broadway. The company will make their Broadway debut with Paramour, a new musical that begins previews at The Lyric Theatre (213 West 42nd Street) on April 16. In anticipation of the spectacle in store, we caught up with ensemble member Broadway veteran, former Survivor competitor, and devoted fiance Reed Kelly to get the inside scoop on the show and how he balances work and his relationship.

Out: We've all hear about how hard it is to be an openly out actor in Hollywood. Do you find that being an out actor on Broadway is difficult in any way?

Reed Kelly: I have to say that I've never encountered any sort of prejudices, or anything like that, in the casting processes that I've been involved in. But, I think that there is a few people, still to this day, who might not be considered for specific roles because people can't see past their sexuality.

How did you come to be involved with Cirque du Soleil's Paramour?

I got a call from my agents saying that they were auditioning for an untitled Cirque du Soleil project. Then, I kind of moved forward from there. We went through the audition process, which was really grueling. They saw a ton of people here in the city. It kind of kept continuing on. You'd get callbacks, and they'd make cuts throughout the day. We did all sorts of stuff. We showed all of our tricks, like contortion, our singing, and dancing. They just kept whittling it down and whittling it down until they decided to make me an offer.

I bet it would be challenging because being a triple threat probably isn't enough for Cirque du Soleil.

Well, being a triple threat these days isn't enough on Broadway. Everyone now has to be able to sing, dance, and act because gone are the days when they would hire twenty dancers and twenty singers, and you just come out and do your dance thing while people sing behind you. Producers are looking for people that can do more than one thing because they don't want to take the risk of hiring so many people. So, being a triple threat is kind of necessary at best at this point.

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Right now, your fiance Josh is cast in the upcoming Broadway production of Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812. How do you guys keep your relationship going?

Luckily, it worked out that Josh's show was just finishing up at ART in Boston as rehearsals kicked off for Paramour. When one of us is in rehearsals, the other one manages the home front. So, I am lucky that Josh gets up in the morning with me and we have breakfast together. Then, I go and rehearse during the day. When I come home, he has dinner on the table, waiting, and the house is nice and clean. It's great, and it is something that I was able to do for him when he was doing Doctor Zhivago, in rehearsals, and all of that. But finding moments of quality time when you are so busy is so important, and it is something that we make sure we do.

You guys definitely have one of those romances that everyone looks up to.

I am just so grateful because I feel like after all of these years, especially being out here and being gay in New York City, sometimes that can take a toll on your optimism for love. And I've always been a hopeless romantic. I guess, after you spend a long enough time out here in New York City, you can get a little, pessimistic. I would think, Gosh, am I ever going to find someone that I am going to want to spend the rest of my life with? Then, entered Josh. It just goes to show you that you have to keep up the hope.

Without giving too much away, what is Paramour about?

Paramour is the story of a girl, who is plucked from obscurity, and then has to choose between the love of one man and the love of millions. It's really a story-driven show that brings together the best of Broadway and the best of Cirque. So,that means that you have a linear story. You are following this girl's journey through her rise to fame, and through that you get to experience high flying acrobatics, you get dance numbers, and you will hear beautiful songs. It's the best of everything all wrapped up in this glamorous package that is Paramour.

You're doing some contortion work for Paramour. Did you get into Cirque stuff prior to Broadway, or is that something that you just added on later in your career?

I've always kind of dabbled, I'd say, in circus arts because I've been in aerial. Also, growing up in dance competitions, one of the things I excelled at was tricks, acro, and some contortion stuff. I think all of those things sort of lend themselves to working in a circus environment.

When we auditioned for the show they really wanted to see what we could do because they wanted to use everyone's strengths. They were looking for people who weren't really just musical theatre dancers or singers, but people who had some extra abilities or things that they could bring to the table. Mine has always been tricks and my kind of extreme-flexibility.

After rehearsing out on Long Island, what has it been like getting into The Lyric Theatre?

It's super exciting because I was previously at The Lyric for Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. That was back when it was called The Foxwoods. It is really fun to be back at my old stomping grounds, where I got to play Spider-Man. We're really excited to be at this point where we have a show. We have a great structure and we have a sense of what we are doing. Now we are ready to really get it up on its feet.

Why do you think audiences should be excited for Paramour?

I mean, why wouldn't they be excited for it? That's my stance because Cirque du Soleil is incredible in everything that they do. On a daily basis, I look around and there are people just doing inhuman things in rehearsals. It's going to classic Cirque combined with a Broadway story and songs. I can't stop singing the songs that have been created for this show. Probably to Josh's annoyance. I just keep singing these songs every day. And, it's not because I am practicing, it's because I can't get them out of my head. There is so much to look forward to. Not to mention these epic sets and this glamorous hype.

For more behind the scenes looks at Paramour, follow Reed Kelly on Instagram. For more information about Cirque du Soliel's Paramour, please visit www.paramouronbroadway.com.

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