Julie Reiber is Broadway’s go-to gal. She has jumped seamlessly from roles in Brooklyn and All Shook Up to major parts in Wicked, On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, and Priscilla Queen of the Desert. Did we mention she also has a new album?
How Reiber found the time to record Love Travels is anyone’s guess given her busy schedule. The album features pop classics, Broadway favorites and even a few originals. Reiber’s talent is genuinely huge, no doubt about that.
She recently spoke with The Improper about her new release, her time as Marion in Priscilla, and her latest collaboration with her husband.
Check out Julie’s Recording
TheImproper: Love Travels is so beautiful. What was your intention for the overall theme of the album?
Reiber: When I was putting the set list together my original idea was just to do all covers, and then I had friends that were like, ‘No you have to put some of your originals on there.’ I’m a fairly new songwriter, so I was a little scared of doing that.
I just found that love was a common theme throughout all of the songs I chose. What I came up with was this concept of love travels, because the original idea was that the album is like an old school album, and it should be listened to from beginning to end. If you do that, it takes you on a ride and a journey. All of these songs are about different stages and spaces in love, and different kinds of love, and all of the different components of just the basic human instinct of love. It’s this idea that love travels as each song and story blends into the next.
IM: Every song is perfect for easy listening. Where/when do you envision people enjoying your music?
Reiber: Stylistically it has a little bit of everything for everyone. In regard to the love theme, it has the heartbreaking, sad love songs, but it’s not all that. It also has the joy and the yearning and the receiving and the giving. A lot of times when it’s a love album it’s a breakup album. But this has that broad spectrum with all of the different styles. I’m a Broadway singer, but in my spare time I listen to Ella Fitzgerald and Stevie Wonder. I have a very wide range of music that I love, and that I also love to sing, so that’s where the broad spectrum of styles of music comes from too.
IM: Who has inspired you most as a performer?
Reiber: I listened to a lot of jazz growing up, and Ella Fitzgerald is one of my favorite singers of all time. I really hope to do a straight jazz album someday too, because I love singing jazz. I also really got into old school funk and old school soul music. That’s why I chose Stevie Wonder and Chaka Khan. I got really obsessed with these singers that are such great songwriters. And then I also like folk vibes, like John Mayer and Martin Sexton, these very simple songwriters on the guitar. That’s sort of what stemmed me sitting around learning to play the guitar. I’m slightly obsessed with Amy Winehouse and Lily Allen right now. Across the board, I like all styles of music.
IM: Choose your two favorite songs on the album, and explain why they hold the most meaning for you.
Reiber: “Knocks Me Off My Feet” is one of my favorite Stevie Wonder tunes. It’s one of the lesser known ones. I kept being drawn to it. And now it has an even more special meaning, because before the album even came out I sang it at my wedding with this arrangement, which was great. I would also say “Let Him Fly,” it was originally a kind of a country/folk tune by Patty Griffin, The Dixie Chicks did a cover of it and countrified it a little bit more, but we made it a little more gospel.
I’ve sung that song in auditions for years. I’ve always loved it, and I think it makes a great audition song because it has so much emotion and it’s such a story. It’s a great acting song. When we did that song in the studio it was always an emotional song for me to sing. By the third time I sang it I was a hysterical wreck. All these years when I’ve sung it, it has always been me singing it to get rid of something that I needed to let go of. Now, when I worked on it with the album, it came from a different place. I didn’t realize it until after I had that session, I was crying more out of relief and happiness because I don’t ever have to sing that song again! I had a big year and I got married, and I have a great husband.
IM: How did you meet your husband?
Reiber: He’s a photographer, but he’s the best thing I ever got from being in Wicked, actually. I was bowling with the Broadway Show Bowling League for Wicked, and he was shooting for The New York Times because he’s a newspaper photographer. He was doing a story on the league, and he came over and took pictures of us. He asked for my email and the rest is history! Now he shoots for The Wall Street Journal.
IM: Are you a singer first, actress second?
Reiber: In my mind I always think of them together. With my performing, singing and acting go hand in hand. Singing is about the storytelling. I don’t think you can get around that. The singers that are most powerful to me sing from their gut, and the emotions around what they’re saying. Have I been singing since I could open my mouth? Yes, but I’ve always just kind of taken them hand in hand.
IM: Did you always aspire to be in musical theatre, or did that grow out of your passion for singing? Were you a Broadway fanatic?
Reiber: I wasn’t a Broadway fanatic, but I think it was more from lack of knowledge. I was over in the Northwest corner of the country. I recall going to Les Mis when I was a kid, and going to The Phantom of the Opera and Annie. When I did see those shows, I was totally into them. I ran my Annie tape into the ground. I would have my best friend play the dog and all the other characters and I would be Annie. I guess I was always a musical theatre kid as soon as I figured out what it was.
I did my first show at the community theatre when I was 12 and I was like, “Ooh, yes, this is what I want to do.” It was a show called Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Cinderella. It was a culmination of all these different fairy tales, and I was playing Little Red Riding Hood. I actually did that show with Hilary Swank, we did community theatre together. Cinderella actually got tonsillitis, and she was sick. Long story short, I played both characters at once. That was definitely the beginning of it all!
IM: The “powers that be” on Broadway seem to have an affinity for you. You hopped from On a Clear Day right into Priscilla last year. What was that transition like?
Reiber: I did the same thing with Brooklyn too. I had my Broadway debut with Brooklyn. And Brooklyn closed, and then only days later I went over to All Shook Up at The Palace. I’m just really fortunate and lucky because they called me and let me jump on over. It worked out great. I’ve been lucky that way a few times. I learned Priscilla in a week, which is possibly the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I’m quick, I guess they know that.
IM: If you could take on any role on Broadway, which would it be?
Reiber: I definitely want to play Evita at some point. It’s an incredible role, and I’ve never gotten an opportunity to play it. I get the chance to do The Last 5 Years in a reading in the Hamptons this summer. Music and characters like that are so suited to me. I love singing these contemporary composers like Jason Robert Brown and Jeff Blumenkrantz. I would love to do The Last 5 Years again.
IM: What do you have planned after Priscilla’s fuel runs out on June 24th?
Reiber: It’s a very big plan. I’m pregnant! I’m doing this reading in August, and a bunch of little benefits here and there where I’m singing, and I’m just going to keep myself busy while being pregnant. I have to get ready for this madness. We’re very excited. I’m at about four months. I’m starting to show a little bit, so I make for a pretty pregnant koala up on Priscilla’s stage!
You can purchase Love Travels above at amazon.com.