Director/producer/choreographer, two-time TONY Award nominee, Joey McKneely, has assembled a gifted group of musicians to bring award-winning playwright, Randall David Cook’s memorizing Gothic romance, SHADOWS, to life. Edison Woods, Maxim Moston, and Karen Bishko transport their audiences into an hypnotic world where lovers – living and otherwise – tell their tales in soaring song and elaborate dance.
SHADOWS follows the secret romance of Claire and Alex. Well, secret to those on this plane. In the afterworld, behind the chiming clock and shuddered windows, another romance between Woman in Red (Claire’s Grandmother) and Man in Blue weave gracefully between the passions of Claire and her young lover. The other spirits, Man in Black and Woman in Silver, unhappy about this affair, torment the lovers. It isn’t until the last few minutes of this stirring piece that we see how the lovers of this world are the salvation for the ones beyond the grave.
SHADOWS was born between a collaboration of playwright and choreographer, using dance as an equal form of narrative to the book. The dances either tell of past encounters, reveal parallel emotions with the main characters, or foreshadow events. In addition, there are two female composer/lyricists who give this musical a unique voice by alternating from hauntingly poetic, alternative dance music to emotional, character driven songs. Along with the third composer, the score creates a modern complexity by using music to set the mood of the characters inner selves. Also, Kabuki style staging was utilized to create the world of the supernatural.
Ai and other five Star Arts Journal sites will follow the production now that its begun rehearsals and continue through coverage of opening night … and beyond.
So speaking of Claire … let’s meet one of the stars, Janine DiVita.
Janine Divita has been seen on Broadway as Rizzo in Grease, Anything Goes, and The Mystery of Edwin Drood. National Tours: Anne in If/Then starring Idina Menzel, Mary Barrie in Finding Neverland, Elizabeth in Young Frankenstein. Regional credits include: Evita (Eva Peron, JET), Oliver! (Nancy, WST– Barrymore Award Nom.), Spamalot (Lady of the Lake, TUTS), A Walk on the Moon (Pearl, NYSF/Vassar/Powerhouse), Candide (Paquette, Alliance/Atlanta Symphony). Concert work includes: Edmonton Symphony, Omaha Symphony, Broadway Rox (International Tour), Lincoln Center, 54 Below (Solo Shows: #LIT: Modern Broad and Blonde Ammunition). TV/Film: The Deuce, Elementary, The Americans, This Is The Moment, Hear My Song (feature film). University of Michigan alum. Love to husband, Rich.
We were thrilled to sit and chat with this jewel of Broadway on creating this powerful role.
Tell us about yourself as an artist.
I’ve been working in the entertainment industry for over 10 years now. My career has been varied and I am always challenging myself with new ideas and projects. I studied musical theater and communication studies in college, and with that I have been able to not only work on Broadway, on National Tours, and in Tony Award winning Regional theaters, but I’ve been able to expand to on-camera work, concert work, writing, and producing. I am also very passionate about teaching and outreach and have brought the arts to the military through my company Empowered Voices. I’ve come to realize that I am not one thing and that that is my identity. I am ever changing and ever growing, and I am fortunate to live a life and be in an industry that encourages that.
Tell us about your role in Shadows
I play Claire in Shadows. She is a wonderfully complex woman who is discovering new sides of herself throughout the journey of piece. The colors are endless and I have such empathy for her struggles. Like all of us, Claire has gone through different seasons of life and she wrestles with her decisions and with her need to give and receive love in a genuine way.
What I find fascinating about Shadows is that the storytelling defies genres. Audiences will not only experience a suspenseful book musical, but they will be entranced by the phenomenal dancers who interpret the story and emotion simultaneously. I’ve never been a part of something so innovative and I’m very excited to be a part of this daring piece.
Share with us your thoughts on independent theater. What is its significance to the skyline of entertainment in NYC?
Independent theater is the heartbeat of NYC theater. Shadows is sexy, funny, human, and scary as hell (kind of the way I would describe New York)!
Also, Shadows has been in the works for years. It takes guts to make a show happen. The sheer tenacity of the creative team aligns with the “won’t quit” attitude of New Yorkers. We all know that when something matters, quitting is not an option!
I also think that New York audiences want to see something different. New York theater goers have seen it all. They want to be excited and surprised and independent theater can do that.