It’s Twyla Tharp meets Stephen King!
A team of highly trained and strikingly graceful dancers frame the plot of Shadows, this gothic and ghostly love story that whispers of forbidden love … in this world and the next.
Shadows is a mesmerizing new dance musical directed and choreographed by Broadway notable, Joey McKneely, haunting melodies by mini orchestra, Edison Woods; composer, Maxim Moston; and British singer/songwriter, Karen Bishko, enfold around an eerie and erotic story by Randall David Cook, whose been scoring kudos Off-Broadway. 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, we have two main 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 our third composer, the score creates a modern complexity by using music to set the mood of the characters inner selves. Also, we use Kabuki style staging to create the world of the supernatural. It’s a six-character musical, 2 actors and 4 dancers, with 2 crew/dancers to be the Kabuki presence.
We spoke with several of the dancing ghosts about a life in the arts; being part of the afterlife cast; and putting show on its feet in the indie art world.
Nickemil Concepcion (Broadway: Cinderella; Off-Broadway in George C Wolfe’s On The Town and a former member of Eliot Feld’s Ballet Tech and Cedar Lake Dance Company); Naomi Kakuk (Broadway: Encores’ Crazy for You; Chess; The Producers); Kyreed Jordon (Indie film: Are You Holding Me, Or Am I Holding Myself?) and Omar Nieves (principle dancer, Virginal Ballet)
“I have been dancing since the tender age of 9 years old (the same age as my youngest son). I have been in the ballet world for about 30 years now and I do not take an opportunity for granted or lightly. I am proud of my professional career thus far and have had the privilege to dance with some amazing artists and companies. I am in my second marriage and have four kids so emotion
s are not a problem to tap into while performing. My life has been a rollercoaster of learning experiences and still is. I find dancing to be therapeutic even if I am not going through that character’s scenario in my life. My character in Shadows is ‘The Man in Black,’ a vital character to the story. My jealousy, rage and struggles are completely relevant to anyone who has been through a divorce. I believe a lot of people will be able to relate to this amazing story.
Independent theatre to me is just raw! Artists do not have this obligation to just entertain but to present something meaningful and completely honest. Independent theatre takes risks in a way that commercialized theatre cannot. In a city filled with all kinds of individuals in all walks of life, Independent theatre is an essential staple for New Yorkers.
“Since I was young, I’ve always expressed great interest in the arts. I’ve always been surrounded by people who support me, believe in me. When I was young, my grandma was the biggest influence in my life when it came to art. I would say a lot of my early identity as an artist came from her. We would sing songs together, watch musicals, do art projects, etc. And she is one of the most talented artists I know. Her creativity and compassion is unparalleled. And then in 4th grade, I had a teacher for home room who took our class to musicals and operas every semester. I was opened to this whole new world. I’ve really been blessed with being able to express myself freely and know who I am from a young age. I’d say, on the other hand, my biggest regret is having not started training early enough. When I finally decided that I wanted to dance professionally, that dance was my passion, I was already 14 years old. And truthfully, I don’t think this is that late at all anymore. But at the time, I felt so far behind everyone around me. I felt like I had missed out on years of what all my friends who been involved in. I transferred to a performing arts school after 9th grade, and that truly changed my life. My lack of hope and trust in my abilities propelled me to work harder, fight harder, and get stronger. It made me who I am as an artist. I will never take anything for granted. In this show, I am one of the two shadows. As shadows, we are responsible for all of the ghost magic and craziness that goes on in the house. We act as the visual representation for the spirits actions. I’ve never taken part in a dance musical of this sort where the dance is woven into the fabric of the plot. And even things as simple as a bed moving, becomes a dance. It’s an awesome experience to be a part and I very excited to see how it all comes together and plays out. I wish I could clone myself and both be an audience member and on stage at the same time.
I believe that independent theater is just as important as professional theater. With independent theater there are so many themes, areas, corners, boxes (or lack there of) and shadows creativity that is not often seen in big time productions. Professional theater is necessary and is, of course, an amazing part of entertainment. However, there is something to be said about something not made just to make loads of money and appeal to the public. What about the few who might have this interest or that interest? Independent theater allows for a full spectrum of creativity to flow, I feel. It also allows for a wider array of people to be involved. Often, more respectful, genuine, even sometimes more talented to be honest. At any rate, it can be a stepping stone for something much bigger.”
“I am ballet trained and always wanted to be a ballerina (even though that never really happened). I happened to audition for and got cast in a A CHORUS LINE during my senior year in high school and it changed my life! I loved the combination of acting and dancing and decided to change my focus. I’ve had a long professional career in NY and on tour (I got my equity card 20 years ago after a few summer stock gigs during college) and have loved being able to create my own characters in ensemble work as well as leading roles. Great female roles for dancers are a rare thing so I jumped at the chance to work in SHADOWS and explore a new one. I’m the ‘Woman in Silver,’ wife of the ‘Man in Blue’ who is having an affair with the ‘Woman in Red’ who is married to the ‘Man in Black.’ We all spirits that haunt the main character’s apartment after we all die there in a horrific scene (which we should keep a mystery for the audience, right?).
I am a huge fan of independent theatre! I have fallen in love with Off Broadway over the past few years. It has the ability to literally bring audiences closer to the actors and therefore almost become part of the story and be affected in a way that a Broadway show can’t do. Because the creative team is not held hostage to a bigger business entity, they have freedom to explore and tell the story they want to tell in the way they want to tell it. Small budgets also give way to more creative solutions, which I love! It’s usually far more interesting to be a part of the creative process when there is less money involved.
“Most part of my career, I’ve been a ballet/contemporary dancer in Puerto Rico and USA. Some years ago, I began to train in acting and singing, making an important transition into musical theatre as well as becoming a teaching artist. Also, I’ve been exploring the creative part of the dance, choreographing several pieces of theater, musicals and immersive experiences. One year ago, after Hurricane Maria, I moved to New York and I am expanding my professional career into a wider universe as an artist, exploring every component of the theater experience. In Shadows, I play Shadow #2. Our most important mission in this dance musical is to make every mystery moment happen in the most artistic possible way. Thanks to our physical work and the vocabulary of the dance, we can make that every surreal idea that is in our director and choreographer mind comes to a reality.
Independent theater provides a very important space of creation in the cultural landscape of New York. In this kind of productions, even though there are some risks and difficulties, we can express ourselves more comfortable than in other kind of productions going on in the city and discover new ways to communicate. We have the space and time to develop artistic works which probably could not happen in other situations.”
SHADOWS: A DANCE MUSICAL
November 29 – December 15
The Connelly Theater, 220 E 4th St, New York City
November 29 & 30 @ 8:00 p.m. ٠ December 1 @ 3:00 & 8:00 p.m.
December 4 – 7 @ 8:00 p.m. ٠ December 8 @ 3:00 & 8:00 p.m.
December 11 – 14 @ 8:00 p.m. ٠ December 15 @ 3:00 & 8:00 p.m.
Two-time TONY Award nominee, JOEY McKNEELY, directs and choreographs.