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‘Shucked’ cast and creatives reflect on bringing country music to Broadway

"Shucked" has landed on Broadway. The original musical comedy, set in the fictional southern Cobb County, opened at the Nederlander Theatre on April 4.

The cast of 'Shucked' (Photo: Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman)

“Shucked” has landed on Broadway. The original musical comedy, set in the fictional southern Cobb County, opened at the Nederlander Theatre on April 4. The story follows a couple — and the characters they meet along the way — who puts their wedding on hold to save the small town as corn crops begin to die.

In the latest episode of “The Broadway Show with Tamsen Fadal,” the cast and creatives shared the joys and challenges of bringing a country music score — written by Brandy Clark and Shane McAnally — to the Main Stem stage.

Clark, a 10-time Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter, shared her belief that Broadway is “somewhat skeptical” of country music. Early on in the process of creating “Shucked,” Clark recalled McAnally saying, “I hope when people leave our show they say, ‘If that’s country music, I love it.’”

“I feel the same way for the country music fans that will come and see this,” Clark said. “I hope they leave and say, ‘If that’s Broadway, I love it.’”

While there is now more information available about the musical comedy on the heels of its opening night, John Behlmann, who plays the role of Gordy, said the first audiences were baffled by the good time they had at the Nederlander Theatre. “One of the most satisfying things is that nobody knows what the h*ll they’re getting into, especially in the early previews,” he said.

“Of all the shows I’ve ever been a part of, this is the show that I know that every person in my family and in my life, if they come, I know they’re gonna have a good time.”

Caroline Innerbichler, who is making her Broadway debut in the role of Maizy, echoed that sentiment. “It’s a pretty tough world out there right now, and I think it’s so important to enjoy ourselves — and especially in the communal experience of sitting down at a theater,” she said.

The community aspect of the show — both onstage and off — has multiple meanings. While the musical itself is partly about people coming together, the show’s country music is also bringing an unlikely genre, and community, to the forefront of a Broadway stage.

McAnally said the show’s secret message may sneak up on people.

“It starts with laughter, and then you realize you’re in it with everybody around you and then secretly a message shows up and it’s about community and family and that we’re all the same,” McAnally said. “To me, people go in thinking one thing and they come out thinking something else.

While country music might seem an unusual fit for musical theater, “Shucked” meets the challenge by pairing the popular genre with a tale as classic as old-school Broadway.

“Country music lends itself so beautifully to Broadway because it is storytelling,” said Tony Award nominee Grey Henson, who plays the role of Storyteller 2. “Everything is such a beautiful narrative — and they are geniuses. What they have done and what they’ve written for this show is so beautiful.”

This week’s episode of “The Broadway Show” also includes an interview with D’Arcy Carden, who is currently featured in the cast of Larissa FastHorse’s “Thanksgiving Play.” Charlie Cooper takes a walk with TV and film star Joshua Malina, currently appearing in “Leopoldstadt.” Viewers can hear from Sean Hayes as he takes on the role of real-life pianist Oscar Levant in the new play “Good Night, Oscar.” The episode also features a look at the new “Grease” prequel series “Rise of the Pink Ladies,” now available to stream on Paramount Plus. And catch up with the company of “Peter Pan Goes Wrong” as they welcome Neil Patrick Harris to the cast for a limited engagement. The episode also highlights the Broadway Bridges program, which recently welcomed high school students to “Hadestown.”