Ryan McCartan helps gives the music of Rodgers & Hammerstein a modern makeover on ‘This Nearly Was Mine.’ He tells us why ‘South Pacific’ is important to him, and how he truly feels about his breakup with Dove Cameron.
Since the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization launched its video series, R&H Goes Pop!, the music synonymous with Broadway has been transformed into tracks that could be found in between Shawn Mendes and Ariana Grande on your favorite playlist. One of South Pacific’s biggest numbers, “This Nearly Was Mine,” gets reimagined as sultry R&B jam, courtesy of Ryan McCartan. The official R&H Goes Pop! video, released on Sept. 25, sees a dejected Ryan return to a hotel room after coming so close to happiness.
With only a handful of rose petals and one unopened jewelry box, Ryan weaves a narrative of crushing rejection, all while his smooth voice serenades the lyrics from that 1949 musical. The Liv and Maddie star — who has gone on to enchant audiences in The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do The Time Warp Again, Heathers: The Musical, and Wicked – talks EXCLUSIVELY with HollywoodLife about his connection with South Pacific, how his breakup with Dove Cameron motivated the video for “This Nearly Was Mine, his brand new ep, Seventh Avenue, and more.
HollywoodLife: For the project, R&H Goes Pop!, you recorded “This Nearly Was Mine” from South Pacific. Do you have a special connection to that Rodgers & Hammerstein musical?
Ryan: Yes, I played Lt. Cable in high school and won a local award for it — the first time making art was ever validated in any big way in my life. After recording this song with the R&H Goes Pop team, I had a chance to sing Lt. Cable again, professionally in concert under the direction of one of my great heroes and mentors Lonny Price. South Pacific has a deep nest of love in my heart.
Why do you think the work of Rodgers & Hammerstein still connects with audiences today?
Because the people who dare to tell the stories that people may not be ready to hear will always have legacies that live on far longer than the man or woman ever could. Rodgers & Hammerstein did that. South Pacific is a great example. Originally produced in 1948, “You’ve Got to be Taught” was their thesis on American indoctrination and racism. Crowds in the 40’s — let alone in 2019 — were not ready for that message, but they gave it to them anyway.
You just released a new ep, Seventh Avenue, on Sept. 20. What can fans can expect with this new release? Will it be a drastic shift from last year’s The Opposite?
Yes! Seventh Avenue is out now, and it was a massive labor of love compiling, writing, producing, and recording all of these songs in my home studio this summer. Each time I make music, it’s for a reason. The Opposite was about closing wounds from a past relationship. Seventh Avenue is the culmination of lessons learned while living in New York making my Broadway debut, the highs and lows associated with Broadway politics, fitting in to new places, love, loss, betrayal, and everything in between.
What was the motivation behind “Acting Like You Don’t,” the first single from the new ep?
My buddy from high school Adam Brausen and I have been making music together for a long time. “Acting Like You Don’t” was born out of a McCartan/Brausen collaboration. I wish I had something deep to say about the song, but this was just another example of boys writing about girls.
You also ported Brad Majors in the 2016 Rocky Horror Picture Show. Was that a fun experience? If given a chance to play another character in Rocky Horror, who would you love to portray?
To date, the most fun I’ve ever had doing anything. I have no idea if I’d have the chops for it, but I’d love to take a swing at the Sweet Transvestite themself someday.
You’ve also starred in Wicked and Heathers: The Musical. What’s next on the musical “bucket-list?”
I get questions like this a lot. Things akin to “what’s your dream role,” and honestly, I don’t think my dream role has been written yet. I don’t know if I have a musical bucket list because my favorite projects to do are brand new. So up next is probably going to be another wonderful surprise.
That being said, I’m currently playing the McBeth role in Roundabout’s off-broadway adaptation “Scotland, PA” and in my humble opinion, everyone should come see it.
Did you call upon any personal “close calls at paradise” to get the emotions down for “This Nearly Was Mine” video?
I think it’s no secret to many of your readers that I was once engaged, and that the engagement was called off. While that ended up being the best thing that probably ever happened to both of us; yes, it is a very easy thing to use to draw upon emotions of pain and betrayal.