Reflections: Ginna Le Vine on Detroit ′67

Ginna Le Vine, playing “Caroline” in McCarter’s production of Dominique Morisseau’s Detroit ’67, recently sat down with us to talk about the production, her connection to music, and much more.

I’ve grown up with music. My parents introduced me to a wide array of music, including Joni Mitchell and James Taylor, Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra. These artists (and so many more) taught me what it is to feel, and it informed who I became as a singer and as a human being. My emotional connection to music is instantaneous. It can transport you, it can change you, it can bring to the surface all sorts of things.

The first song my father ever sang to me was “My Girl” by The Temptations. I was a preemie, so the family held this huge celebration at my baptism, with my father holding me in his arms singing to me. Anytime that song comes on it reminds me of my father. If it comes on at a party or an event, we’ll dance together no matter what.

The music moments in the show are incredibly layered. The music grooves with the show, it cries with the show, there’s a release with these songs. There’s a permission to be free within a song that the music allows to happen. There’s a moment for my character where she gets a little lost in a song, and she gets to be alone with herself and this song which is beautiful. There are so many moments like that in this show.

I was drawn to the challenge of this piece. These characters are so flawed and beautiful. I love my character because she’s fighting with the best of intentions and just trying to survive while being naïve to her own privilege. She’s given perspective.

From the moment I entered the room, our director, my fellow actors, the creative team, they’ve all created such a wonderfully safe space to really dig into this material. We laugh, we cry, we ask questions, we lean on each other. It’s been extraordinary to watch this group work, it lifts me up as an actor. McCarter is an incredible incubator, and I feel honored to be a part of it.

You leave this play with a feeling of hope. It doesn’t shy away from what’s difficult, it embraces it with empathy. Your family, whether through blood or through bond, is what will be there for you when the world may not necessarily be on your side.

The heart and soul of this play is survival. This show is about people fighting for what they love. Though there may be conflict, everybody is fighting for something beautiful, and positive. The home in this story is this sacred space for the family and when a stranger interrupts it, you’re seeing the resilience of those ties that people have.

-Ginna Le Vine