They finally get to dance on Broadway

No one other than her puppy, Alfie, was with Ayla Ciccone-Burton when she heard the good news from her agent. “I got up at the dog park...


No one other than her puppy, Alfie, was with Ayla Ciccone-Burton when she heard the good news from her agent.

“I got up at the dog park in front of all these people that I don’t know,” she said. “I’m just running, screaming at the top of my lungs, telling my dog ​​I’m gonna be on Broadway.”

“He didn’t care,” she added, laughing effervescent laughter. She loves him anyway.

Like most artists, Ciccone-Burton will not play a lead role in his show. She will sing and dance in ensemble and make her Broadway debut.

She and three other supporting artists, all slated for Broadway arcs this fall, recently spoke about what it means to them and what they discovered about themselves and the industry as it all went down. ripped off for so long.

Atticus Ware is 13 now, but he was 11 when he was cast for the new musical “Fly over the sunset”, In 2019. Since the shutdown of Broadway, he has been very concerned that he might physically overtake his role as young Archie Leach, aka Cary Grant.

“You know, there’s really nothing you can do about it,” Ware said one August morning, just returning from summer camp. “So it was very stressful. But I am much more relieved now. And I will almost certainly be able to do it.

Almost?

“Because, I mean, you never know,” he said. “I might hit a giant growth spurt in the next few months, or my voice might drop.”

Written by Tom Kitt, Michael Korie, and James Lapine, who also directs, “Flying Over Sunset” is a fantasy about Cary Grant, Clare Boothe Luce, and Aldous Huxley on an acidic trip to Hollywood in the 1950s. With a directed cast by Tony Yazbeck, Carmen Cusack and Harry Hadden-Paton, it was hours before his first glimpse when the industry froze.

“I first heard about the pandemic a week before this,” recalls Ware, who since her casting has split her time between North Carolina, where her mother and siblings live, and the New Jersey, where his father lives. “When it hit, I cried. I cried a lot. It was hard. “

The youngest of three children in a vegan family, Ware started dancing at age 4 and doing musical theater at age 6. Her brief biography is filled with credits from the Charlotte, North Carolina scene. He was home-schooled for most of his life, and part of that education has always been online, but when the going got tough, his dance lessons went virtual as well.

“It really cheered me up when I started being able to take dance lessons in person again,” he said. “It was really helpful for my mental state.”

“Flying Over Sunset” is choreographed by tap dance sensation Michelle Dorrance, and she’s taught her a lot, including how to combine speed and precision. But there’s also that, he said, “She’s very nice.”

The company, which is now slated to begin performances in November, has spent some of its time in limbo congregating on Zoom for themed nights with games and cocktails. Ware sometimes had a matching mocktail.

“My mom, honestly, I don’t know how she did it, but she made like gin without alcohol,” he said with a laugh. “Usually I just take LaCroix.”

The day in August when his career on pandemic hiatus finally resumed, Ayla Ciccone Burton called his mother twice in tears.

In the morning, she cried because after a year of working as a nanny, she really, really didn’t want to do it anymore.

By noon, however, she was sobbing with joy, as she had just been cast in the set of her first Broadway show. When “Tina: The Tina Turner Musical”Reopens in October, she will play an Ikette.

“It means everything,” said Ciccone-Burton, 26, a bubbly and thoughtful actor-singer-dancer who was in Auckland, New Zealand, on tour with “The Book of Mormon,” when the live performances took place. are arrested.

In her dreams of returning to Broadway, she envisioned herself as an enthusiastic member of the audience and hoped she would have the money to attend an opening night.

“And now, am I going to be on stage for one of those opening nights?” Like, reopenings? she said. “I don’t even have the words.”

Growing up in Niagara Falls, NY, Ciccone-Burton embarked on competitive theater, song and dance. When her high school did “Willy Wonka” she played Violet Beauregarde.

But by the time graduation arrived, in 2013, the future of performance she had aimed for as a child seemed impractical, especially since the BFA programs she had auditioned for had turned her down.

Taking inspiration from her mother, a high school science teacher, she majored in biology at SUNY Fredonia and stopped performing.

“I would say my freshman year of college was one of my saddest years,” she said.

It took a while – and ditch that major – before she found her way home. But in 2017, her professional career began when she was cast as a dancer and understudy on an unorganized nationwide tour of “Dirty Dancing.” Right before the end, she got the position in “The Book of Mormon.”

She spent the first few months of the pandemic in Niagara Falls, where she streamed videos of the Tony Awards shows from her childhood bedroom. When the Broadway Defense Coalition has held online discussions about racism in the industry, she has also logged into those.

It is therefore particularly significant for her to join a predominantly black program directed by Adrienne Warren, founder of the coalition. Ciccone-Burton said that as she grew up, and before “The Book of Mormon,” she was often the “symbolic black artist” of a production.

“Being in this show where it’s the majority, and the people in that majority are actively trying to change the world of Broadway, in the community?” she said. “Yeah, that feels really good. “

“Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” took Tomás Matos to Europe in 2016. Matos, who is not binary, had just graduated from Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School – known as the “Fame” school – when they been chosen in the musical for Norwegian Cruise Line.

Departing from Barcelona on Sunday, the ship circled the Mediterranean. Matos has been shopping for months in Italian, French and Spanish ports.

“I left with one paycheck,” they said, “but I also came back with a whole European wardrobe. The clothes there are iconic.

Naughty and funny and full of their own glamor, Matos premiered with “Diana: The Musical” when Broadway went dark. Since the production won’t officially open until November 17 – after a filmed version, shot during the shutdown, premiered on Netflix on October 1 – Matos’ official Broadway debut is also on hold until then.

Cast in the show in 2018, while on his way to Broadway, Matos is part of the ensemble and has a small starring role, doing a duet with Diana.

“There is a lot of dancing and chanting and going out full blast and then standing in the back as palace staff right after,” Matos said. “And let the sweat run down my face as Queen Elizabeth sings a ballad.”

At 23, they’ve been dancing since sixth grade at IS 61 in Staten Island, where the teacher – Danielle McNally, who receives a thank you in Matos’ bio Playbill – said whoever makes the best folded will get a lollipop.

“I got that goddamn lollipop,” said Matos.

Matos, who for a time during the pandemic was making and selling empanadas from home with his grandmother, sees the filming of the “Fire Island” movie this summer as a highlight of the pandemic. Her stars include Bowen Yang from “Saturday Night Live,” where Matos was a backup dancer for Lil Nas X in May.

“Another highlight, I got sober,” said Matos, who now uses him and them as pronouns, having also adopted a non-binary identity in the pandemic.

“It’s something that took a lot of thinking and a lot of panic attacks, trying to really come to terms with my gender identity and how non-conforming it is,” they said. “And I feel really, really happy to be able to sort of put a pronoun on what I’ve always felt.”

At midnight on January 1, 2020, Yael “YaYa” Reich was on stage in the Phish show at Madison Square Garden, one of a few dozen dancers costumed as clones of the group. It was a crazy and perfect start to what so many people knew in their bones was going to be an amazing year.

For Reich, 28, it certainly looked like this. In February, she successfully auditioned for “Hadestown, The reigning Tony Award winner for Best Musical. Featured as a swing – a performer who is learning multiple ensemble roles and must be ready to act as an understudy for one of them – she was only three days into rehearsals, along with another person who was joining the show, when Broadway suspended operations.

Last month, as production prepared for its return on September 2, rehearsals involved the entire company: a bit of a shock to the Reich system after a long period of soul-searching and loneliness.

“I have been alone for most of the pandemic,” she said. “I actually drove out west and took quite a solo van trip. It was incredibly introspective, beautiful, broad and difficult. But it was a lot to come back to a room full of people. “

“The fact that it is those people, ”she added,“ is sort of the only way I would like to do it right now. “

Reich, who is not binary, grew up in Seminole, Florida, doing children’s theater with his younger sister from a young age.

“Basically I came out of the womb singing and dancing,” she said.

In high school at the Pinellas County Center for the Arts, and later at the University of Florida, she majored in musical theater. After graduating from college in 2015, she toured with “Mamma Mia!” for two years, then with “Rent” and “Evita”.

The stop gave him the opportunity to slow down and take a step back. While she has dreamed of being on Broadway all her life, she sees it as “a milestone” along the journey, not the destination.

“If I have learned anything from the pandemic,” she said, “it is that my dreams extend further and further and deeper than an entity, an institution, an industry.”

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