Just a few weeks ago, School of Theatre alum Christiani Pitts (BFA Music Theatre ’15) stepped into the role of Jane in the Broadway musical A Bronx Tale! Ms. Pitts was previously featured in the Ensemble of A Bronx Tale and over the better part of the year has served as an understudy for Jane. We caught up with Ms. Pitts on the day of her debut as a Broadway leading lady. Check out the interview below!
Interviewer: Congratulations on your new role! What have you found to be most interesting about stepping into the role of Jane, and how do you plan to make the role your own?
Christiani: Thank you so much! Ecstatic is an understatement for how I feel right now. My first performance is actually tonight so I haven’t felt that rush yet. However, so far the most interesting part has been the transition from being my normal character “Denise McAnthony” to putting myself in the shoes of someone my character has been trying to protect for the past 8 months. It’s been very interesting seeing the ways in which I begin to let go of the ensemble character I had such an awesome time creating. As far as making Jane “my own”, I just plan to be as truthful and intentional as I possibly can. Jane is such a bold and brave young woman who possesses a lot of qualities I wish I had. However, I too am a young black woman proud of who I am and extremely aware that no matter how anyone views me, the color of my skin does not determine the distance my dreams and desires can travel. I plan to take both our differences and similarities and mold them together.
Interviewer: Can you tell us a little bit about your experience working on A Bronx Tale from its infancy until now?
Christiani: So far, working on A Bronx Tale has been whirlwind. I had never seen the movie before auditioning so it was truly like stepping into a different world. Everyone involved in the production has just been one big family. A Bronx Tale was my Broadway debut, and the team took me under their wings and guided me through the whole process. It’s also been really fascinating watching the way the show evolves as we all get closer as friends and family.
Interviewer: This summer, many Broadway shows have posted their closing notices yet A Bronx Tale continues to wow audiences. What do you think keeps drawing audiences to the show?
Christiani: The story of A Bronx Tale is timeless. Choosing love over fear as Sonny (Nick Codero) sings in the song “Nicky Machiavelli” is a message that resonates with so many people. The movie has such a huge fan base, but it’s great to see that the base has now extended to people who hadn’t even heard of it before. I think audiences believe they are coming to enjoy a nostalgic period piece and leave being moved be the relevancy of the subject to choose love over fear.
Interviewer: You graduated from FSU only three years ago and are now playing a leading role on Broadway. Do you have any advice for our current students?
Christiani: Wow, I can’t believe it’s been 3 years already! If there was anything I can tell the current FSU students I would say give it your all every time you can. FSU does a wonderful job at giving us the right technique and confidence when heading to our perspective cities. However, one thing I wasn’t expecting is that a lot of people in these cities are extremely talented, confidant, and technically trained. What separates us and puts us where we want to be? From my experience, I would say hard work and drive. When it is your time to shine, go all the way in, hold back for no one! Push yourself to limits you didn’t realize you had and then rest and breathe. No one can take your work ethic from you, no one.
A Bronx Tale opened on December 1, 2016 and is currently running at the Longacre Theatre.