In the Spotlight
DS went to six of the newest shows in NYC’s Theater District: Guys and Dolls, 9 to 5: The Musical, Rock of Ages, Shrek the Musical, Hair and Happiness. These seven dancers caught our attention for their outstanding stage presence and serious dance skills. Here, they model looks inspired by each of their shows. Copy these styles and you won’t have to wait until you’re a Broadway star to look like one!
Guys and Dolls
Guys and Dolls is a love story set in the 1930s. You can expect showstopping numbers performed by the craps players (“Luck Be a Lady”) and hot box girls (“A Bushel and a Peck”).
Kearran Giovanni, 27, and Nick Adams, 25, have obvious chemistry during the saucy Havana salsa number in Guys and Dolls. Perhaps it’s because this isn’t their first time dancing together. They met as teens doing a summer stock performance of A Chorus Line in Cincinnati, OH. And there are even more crossovers between these two superstars! Both began as gymnasts before taking up dance, and both attended prestigious conservatories (Kearran went to the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati, and Nick got his degree from Boston Conservatory).
Since then, they have each racked up impressive Broadway credits (Kearran has been in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Sweet Charity and Tarzan; Nick has done A Chorus Line, Chicago and The Pirate Queen). Now that they’re reunited in Guys and Dolls, they couldn’t be more excited. Kearran says that her favorite number is the Havana dance scene because the movement is bold and sexy. “It doesn’t hurt that I also get to make out with Craig Bierko,” she gushes about her co-star, who plays Sky Masterson.
Though this number is fun, it’s also challenging. “I went through salsa boot camp,” Nick says about learning the Havana choreography. “I had to be taught how to hold my body and move my hips in the Latin style.” —Lauren Levinson
9 to 5: The Musical
Even if you’ve never seen the classic ’80s workplace comedy 9 to 5, starring Dolly Parton, you’ll love 9 to 5: The Musical, playing now in the Marquis Theatre. This show features not only the movie’s foot-tapping title track, but also a whole set of new songs by Parton, as well as killer dance numbers by In the Heights choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler!
Hometown: Miami, FL (by way of New York and Puerto Rico)
Ioana Alfonso, a Broadway veteran who was one of the original members of Wicked’s ensemble, is psyched to be playing the part of Maria (the innocent office girl) in 9 to 5’s premiere cast. “Even though the show is new, we open with ‘9 to 5,’ which is already an iconic song,” Ioana says. “That combo of familiar and unfamiliar really gets the audience excited.” The rest of the cast and crew also continually impress her. “They’re an incredible pool of artists,” she says. “And our backstage crew is amazing—they’re often overlooked, but they’re the ones who really make the show happen.” —Margaret Fuhrer
Rock of Ages
If you’re looking for “Nothing But a Good Time,” Rock of Ages is just that. Following a successful off-Broadway run, the show is now rocking audiences nightly on the Great White Way. It’s the love story of a “small town girl” who moves to L.A. in hopes of becoming an actress. She meets a “city boy” on the Sunset Strip and gets caught up in the world of rock and roll. The story is told entirely through classic karaoke hits, like Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” and “Here I Go Again” by Whitesnake.
Ensemble, Waitress #1
Hometown: Her mom is in New Orleans and her dad is in New York, so Savannah says home is “traveling between those two places.”
The Rock of Ages cast boasts a handful of Broadway veterans, including Savannah Wise, 25. She made her Broadway debut at just 8 years old in Les Misérables, and has Broadway in her blood (her father, Scott Wise, is a Tony Award–winning dancer). “I grew up around dancers, like my stepmother, Elizabeth Parkinson, and Desmond Richardson,” Savannah says. Being a Broadway baby doesn’t come without parental pressure. “My mother, who was a dancer, will sometimes give me notes after my shows,” she says. “That can get a little intimidating!”
Pressure aside, Savannah is reaping the benefits of being a part of a brand-new show. The day of her DS shoot, Savannah was also shooting a spot for “Live! With Regis & Kelly!” “You meet all kinds of people and have celebrities in the audience,” she says. “That doesn’t happen when you’re doing regional theater or a tour.” —Alison Feller
Shrek the Musical
Broadway has brought a new odor, er, ogre to the stage with Shrek the Musical, adapted from the Oscar-winning animated film. The Broadway Theatre houses a bunch of misfit fairytale characters singing and dancing to the brand-new, 19-song score, which, joined with the set and choreography, adds layers of cleverness and hilarity.
White Rabbit and others
Hometown: Redlands, CA
Noah Rivera, 26, who appeared on “The Wade Robson Project” and in Wicked, both in 2003, suits up as the White Rabbit, among other roles, in Shrek the Musical. Noah praises the community he’s become a part of. “All of the performers, crew, costume designers and makeup artists are highly skilled,” he says. “It’s a really professional production, and it’s beautiful to see it come together.”
Noah deems “What’s Up, Duloc?” both his most challenging and favorite routine. “The choreography is witty and clever, but it’s also sharp and specific.” He stresses that Broadway is not just about dance. “You can be the most amazing dancer, but when you get a callback, you have to be able to sing, too. Lots of dancers understudy acting-heavy roles, so you need to get as much experience and training doing all three if Broadway is where you’re headed.” —Monica Levy
Hair bounds to Broadway with swirling color, youthful yearning and questioning of the world’s status quo. Accompanied by songs like “Aquarius” and “Let the Sun Shine In,” the show tells the tale of a gaggle of hippies trying to figure out life, love and the meaning of it all—while dodging the military draft. The tribe’s individual stories are told in short songs and vignettes, with Karole Armitage’s swaying choreography molding the piece into a rainbow-colored whole.
Hometown: Ivorytown, CT
Explosively energetic Jackie Burns, 28, who’s making her Broadway debut as a tribe member, is particularly impressive. As part of the girl trio that sings “Black Boys,” Jackie proves she can belt with the best of them.
And her dancing chops shine in group boogies as well as the audience dance party that follows the show. (“We call it the third act!” Jackie says.) Her whiplash head rolls and funky hip moves betray her serious dance training: She studied jazz, tap and lyrical and competed at Starpower, Showstopper and Starquest!
Despite the occasional “hair neck” from shaking her head during the song “Hair,” Jackie is loving every moment of her first turn on the Great White Way. “Hair represents so much hope and possibility,” she says. “And because there is so much audience interaction, there is no fourth wall. You look into an audience member’s eyes and get to experience actual gratitude. You see people light up when you walk by. That’s what the show is all about: We are all one!” —Lauren Kay
In Happiness, nine New Yorkers find themselves trapped on an unusual subway train. Each person must decide what his or her most joyful memory is before being allowed to exit. As the stories unfold, the choreography and direction of Broadway veteran Susan Stroman brings them to life.
Young Helen and others
Hometown: Rochester, NY
An elderly passenger, Helen, tells her story first, describing a romantic night of dancing with a young soldier who was to be shipped out in the morning to fight in World War II. Enter Alessa Neeck, 22, as young Helen. “It’s cool to work off the older version of my character. There’s so much depth to her,” Alessa says. “Susan has done a great job of creating a courtship in only five minutes. The audience can really see how she falls in love.” This emotional scene is also Alessa’s most challenging. “There’s a dance break in the middle, and my partner, Patrick Cummings, and I have four lifts in a row,” she says.
Alessa, who also performed in Irving Berlin’s White Christmas on Broadway last holiday season, enjoys working in the Broadway world because the caliber of the people is extraordinary. “Everyone is professional and talented,” she says. So what’s her advice for dancers who want to make it to the Great White Way? “Take as much ballet as possible!” —Brianne Carlon
Photo: Jacob Pritchard