Interview with King Kong star Christiani Pitts
Christiani Pitts has hit the big time! And when we say "Big," we mean "Huge... Massive... Monstrous!!!" Following her stint in the musical adaptation of A Bronx Tale, the Broadway shooting star managed to land the coveted role of Ann Darrow in the newly opened Broadway premiere of King Kong, and she's no longer a screaming damsel in distress, folks! She is a fearsome, force of nature in her own right, demanding to be heard.
Ms. Pitts has the incomparable and perhaps unenviable task of holding her own, when her co-star is a 6 meter high, 1.2 ton animatronic silverback gorilla, and let's not be in any doubt about why crowds are flocking to the Broadway Theatre. The sight of Kong is truly a wonder, if you'll excuse the pun, of stage technology, but the shared moments between Kong and Ann Darrow is where the heart of the production truly lies. "Full Moon Lullaby" is the only musical number in the entire show where one character directly engages another through song and Ms. Pitts certainly makes it count. Her star quality also shines through the strikingly modern, uptempo numbers such as "Queen of New York" and "Scream for the Money," bringing a raw, Beyoncé-like vibe to this timeless story, depicting the connection between beast and beauty, both misunderstood outsiders in their own unique ways.
We recently sat down with Ms. Pitts to get her thoughts on her starring role on the Great White Way...
Tell us a little bit about your Ann Darrow. Most people will know her as the blonde damsel in distress from the movies or from pop culture, but this stage version of Ann is something different altogether, right?
This is an Ann Darrow that you’ve never seen before! This Ann Darrow has so much faith in being someone of importance and someone who breaks down barriers. You get to see everything. You get to see why she has so much faith in herself, which I don’t think was ever introduced before. Not that it wasn’t there, but I don’t think anyone cared enough to explore that part. This Ann Darrow has an insane amount of faith with her that she carries on her entire journey to New York and to Skull Island and she never lets go of it.
And she has quite a bit of gumption! And with the modern feel of the score, there were times - during the introductory number “Queen of New York” for instance - where I felt I was watching a member of Destiny’s Child…
(Laughs) I wish! The one who never made it, that’s me!
Oh, you’ve made it! And what’s it like singing these ultra-modern songs like “Scream for the Money” in what essentially is still a period piece?
It’s such a challenge because you want to stay true to the style and you want to make sure people understand the circumstances of the period. What does it mean to talk about the Great Depression with an 808 drum in the background? It’s difficult but it’s so much fun to play every night.
It’s certainly a striking juxtaposition. Looking at the poster though, it doesn’t say the word “musical” anywhere. Can you explain?
(Laughs) Yes, I think it’s because this is unlike any other musical. It didn’t follow the rules of what a musical should be like. I think they wanted to just leave it with an ambiguous title so that people would come and find out for themselves. Is it a play with songs? You know what I mean? It’s all up for your own interpretation.
There were times that I forgot it was a musical and then after a while a character would start singing again and I’d be reminded…
Right! And unlike any other musical, no one sings to each other. I have one song to Kong, but apart from that, every other song is within a character’s heart or head. They don’t sing to another actor.
Maybe some of your audience has never been to the theatre before. Maybe they’ve seen a film version of Kong. What can they expect from a trip to the Broadway Theatre to see this King Kong?
I think you can expect to have your heartstrings tugged on in a way that you’re not prepared for. And I think you’re going to be a part of history. This is the first time this sort of technology has ever been introduced to a Broadway stage. I think it will be amazing to just come to a show and leave knowing you were part of history – that’s an unbeatable experience!
King Kong Tickets are available now for performances through to April 14, 2019.