Len Cariou has been playing Henry Reagan on “Blue Bloods” since the show started in 2010. At 81 years old, the Broadway legend has been acting since long before the hit CBS police drama came about. And in addition to his accomplished screen career, the man is a Tony Award-winning stage performer. Recently, he’s been taking the stage with a musical that he’s been working on for the better part of 50 years.
It all began back in 1970 when the “Blue Bloods” star earned his first major role opposite Lauren Bacall in an adapted musical named “Applause.” He was nominated for his first Tony as a result of his performance. But it wouldn’t be until 1979 that Cariou won one of the awards for his portrayal of the title character in “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.”
These days, his TV and movie credits far outnumber his Broadway roles. But the “Blue Bloods” actor talked about his desire to get back to singing in an interview with CBS Los Angeles in 2018. And that’s exactly what he does in his invention, “Broadway and the Bard.”
“It’s an idea that I had, believe it or not, 50 years ago. And we did it for the first time in New York in 2016. So it only took me 48 years to get it on,” Cariou said. “But it’s something that I wanted to get back to. The success of ‘Blue Bloods’ kind of took over my life at that time, 7 or 8 years ago. And in the middle of the second or third season, I thought, ‘you know, I haven’t been singing very much and I haven’t done Shakespeare in a while and I’d had this idea and I think I’m finally going to put it together.”
The ‘Blue Bloods’ Star’s Idea for the Musical Came to Him at a Bar
All those years ago, Len Cariou found himself at a bar in Chicago after a performance. He heard the piano player playing a tune that resonated with him, and a thought occurred to him.
The “Blue Bloods” star realized that Othello would go perfectly with the piece of music. Or parts of it at least.
“We did it. And the place was full, and everybody was very excited about it. So I knew that it would work. The response was just something that stayed with me. I thought at first that we were going to do this as a cabaret,” Cariou continued. “We said no, this is not a cabaret piece. It’s got to have lights. It’s got to be a theater piece. So that was the idea.”
The one-act show has been received well in recent years. And more importantly, the “Blue Bloods” star has enjoyed performing it. So much so that in honor of his 81st birthday in September 2020, Cariou performed the show in a live stream.