Disappointed in love, a man sits alone, listening to music and ruminating. [Been there, done that.]
A couple moves in next door and his initial interest in their actions turns into an obsession. [OK, maybe not so much.]
What follows, we are told, are all sorts of unexpected developments as the creators of Black aided by a blue ribbon cast and crew hope to produce the kind of musical theater magic that is not only a smash hit at the Alley Theater where it is about to open, but which continues to fame and fortune in Broadway.
“There are only seven people in the cast. Each one of us is so talented, everyone is a triple threat, everyone sings, dances, performs. No one can hide. We all do everything” , says Christy Altomare (Broadway: Anastasia, Mamma Mia!) who performs one of the main roles as Scarlet.
With a title that indicates that not everything will be soft and light – but again, shows like Sweeney Todd and Little Shop of Horrors demonstrate that musicals with darker elements can succeed with audiences and critics – Black has music by Duncan Sheik (spring awakening), book by Kyle Jarrow (The musical SpongeBob SquarePants) and lyrics by Jarrow and Sheik. Darko Tresnjak (A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder) directed.
“What I love about Darko as a director is that he really does his research and he has a passion for that style. He’s seen almost every film noir out there and done so much research on black,” says Altomare. “If you’re someone who appreciates noir, there are so many Easter eggs and hints and homages to other classic noir films and noir art.”
The season finale is an ambitious undertaking on the part of The Alley and other cast members, including Adam Kantor (Broadway: The Band Tour, Fiddler on the Roof) like The Neighbor and Morgan Marcell (Broadway: Hamilton, Moulin Rouge!, Bandstand) as the woman. Also, Sinclair Daniel (Shakespeare Theater Company: Peter Pan and Wendy) as The Kid, David Guzman (Broadway: Hamilton, Disney’s Newsies) as The Husband, Clifton Samuels (Broadway: Follies, amazing grace) as The Boss, and Voltaire Wade-Greene (Broadway: hamilton) as The Goon.
Altomare is very careful when asked to describe his character and what happens in the two-act musical. “Without saying too much, this show has a lot of twists and turns. My character is basically a nightclub singer/performer who takes pills and has an affair with the neighbor who is sort of the narrator. The whole story revolves around The message of the show is about loss and dealing with loss. The neighbor is basically trying to get over this thing and he loves Scarlet dearly.”
She promises the music is memorable, referring to Sheik’s “earworm melodies” and calling Karla Puno Garcia’s choreography “incredible.”
“There’s so much movement. Sometimes you’re in the foreground and sometimes you’re in the back. It’s human, you dance like you breathe. It feels so good in your body. It’s beautiful to watch .”
Altomare had previously worked with Tresnjak on Anastasia. She also made the first national tour of spring awakening which was Sheik’s music. “It was just a perfect collision of coincidences that the role was right. I still had to go audition and do my best and be approved by the team. But it’s no secret that I love the whole creative team. who are members of Anastasia’s creative team.”
She says that from an early age she was always one of those kids who wanted to perform and luckily, she says, her parents supported her in this effort. She attended the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and as part of this prestigious program appeared in a showcase where she sang “Mama Who Bore Me” by The awakening of spring.
“The Casting Director [for the Spring Awakening national tour] was in the audience and that’s how I got my first job which was the first national tour of spring awakening. It’s not as simple as it seems. I had to audition about eight more times. But I was lucky enough to book the main character. So yeah, that’s what happened but I had to fight for it,” she laughs.
When asked what it means to her to be part of the creation of brand new work, Altomare said: “I think it’s every actor’s dream, every creator’s dream, it’s is to do something and bring it to the maximum of this craft.
“We put our hearts into this production.”
Performances are scheduled June 2 (opening night is June 9) through July 3 at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and Sunday, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Alley Theater, 615 Texas. For more information, call 713-220-5700 or visit alleytheatre.org. $28 to $71.