By Angela Barbuti
The first Broadway show Natalie Lomonte ever saw was The Phantom of the Opera. She was visiting New York for the first time with her mother’s dance studio. After purchasing last-minute tickets, they were seated in the 11th row, in the spot where the infamous chandelier comes crashing down on the audience.
This may have been a sign that two decades later, she would be cast in another infamous show, Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark. Now 31, Lomonte has been appointed to dance captain of the spectacle, which celebrated its one-year anniversary on June 14. On Mondays, her day off, she can be found at home on the Upper West Side, working on her computer with a Spider-Man mouse pad. We spoke to her by phone last week.
Since the choreographer is not there all the time, the dance captain is there to make sure the intentions of the choreographer are carried out and the integrity is maintained to the standard it was originally intended. I cover auditions and rehearsals and train new cast members.
How did you get started in dance?
In my bio, I say that I began dancing in the womb, because that’s what my mother tells me. She’s a dance teacher and owned a school in Sugarland, Texas. When she was pregnant, she claims that when she put on a record in class, I would start moving around. She continuously tested me by pulling the needle off the record, and I would always stop.
There has been much media coverage of the accidents that plagued the set. How has that affected the dynamic of the show?
When we started our first three months of previews, there was a feeling in the air that people were coming just in case an accident happened, because they wanted to be there to witness it. It was very surreal.
How is Spider-Man different from other Broadway musicals?
Because it was such an expensive production and Julie Taymor, Bono and Edge were involved, the show was a celebrity itself. I feel like we were on the map before we got started, and a lot of people decided whether they were for or against us from the beginning.
How much interaction does Bono have with the cast?
He works more closely with the creative team. But, as ensemble members, Bono and Edge were present for a few musical rehearsals or when we were putting a new song on stage. Once we opened for previews, they invited us out to dinner.
Which celebrities would you like to see in the lead roles eventually?
Wow, that’s a really good question. [Aside] Who would I like to see in the lead roles if they were to go the celebrity route?
Did you just ask someone for help?
I did! [Laughs] I asked my boyfriend, Christopher Tierney, who is also in the show. Alan Cumming was originally cast as the Green Goblin, which would have been a much different direction. Perhaps our show, being based on the Marvel comic, doesn’t have the same immediate need for a celebrity, as others do, in order to sell tickets.
When you look into the audience, who do you see?
You have the occasional kid with his face painted to look like a Spider-Man mask or my personal favorite, a pajama Spider-Man costume with a built-in muscle suit. We have a lot of little kids waving to us when we are bowing. Because it’s about such an iconic character, we definitely have people there who otherwise wouldn’t be interested in seeing a Broadway musical, from tiny kids to grandparents.
Who are some famous people who have been in the crowd?
Heidi Klum came with her children. Bill Clinton, Jay-Z and Beyoncé, David Ortiz, Al Pacino, Alicia Keyes. A lot of the Yankees.
Did you ever think the show would close?
I always kept the idea that anything could happen. We were working so hard, for so many hours a day, for so long. In the middle of it, when things were really chaotic, if it were to close, I don’t know that any of us would have been completely surprised. But I never felt pessimistic. In my heart, I thought it would succeed. I can’t tell you why exactly, but I felt like we weren’t going through this for nothing.
That’s probably why your show did succeed—because of the cast’s positive outlook.
I do think that has a lot to do with it—the attitudes of the people on stage and even backstage. Everyone in our original cast was just absolutely incredible. It’s a very unique vibe in the group; we’re really lucky. We just stuck with it and made it happen.
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