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Joshua Henry Finds a Personal Connection to ‘Carousel’

April 2, 2018 by Suzy Evans
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(Photographed by Nathan Johnson)

Joshua Henry never thought he would play Billy Bigelow in “Carousel,” but one of the first musical-theater songs he sang was “If I Loved You” when he was 17. His voice teacher was moved by his performance, and she said right then: “You can do this for a living.”

“She really believed in me, even when I didn’t know what I had,” he says.

Henry has been training with the same teacher as he gears up for the Broadway revival of the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein show about a troubled carnival barker that is playing at the Imperial Theatre. His co-star Jessie Mueller, who plays Julie Jordan, calls Henry a “kind and caring leader.”

“He’s a gentleman and hilarious,” she says. “I love his spirit.”

Henry’s infectious charm comes in handy when he’s playing a character whom many consider to be the antagonist. Coming off a run playing another misunderstood villain, Aaron Burr in “Hamilton” in Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, Henry looks at “Carousel” as a tale of redemption.

“Nobody wakes up a villain,” Henry says. “It’s so easy to focus on the negative things that people do.”

While no one would ever call Henry a villain, he does have one very strong thing in common with the character. Henry’s first son was born in March, and Billy’s epic song, “Soliloquy,” is all about the character fretting about the impending arrival of his child.

“I do wonder what he’ll think of me,” Henry says, quoting the first line of “Soliloquy.” “I want to be a father that he would really want to have and so that’s what I think about when I sing that song. I can’t fully go all the way there because I don’t want to lay on the ground sobbing, and of course, Billy has major obstacles. It’s amazing for this moment, thinking about going through this in real life.”

Styled by Julianna Alabado
Grooming by Johnny Caruso

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