Greek-Am Diorio Choreographs


By Vasilis Papoutsis


LOS ANGELES, CA – Breaking Through is a world premiere musical directed by Artistic Director Sheldon Epps. It is the story of a talented singer/songwriter Charlie Jane (Alison Luff) who is trying to break in the cutthroat music business.

In her desperate attempt to move forward she enlists the help of a music manager Amanda (Nita Whitaker), an old family friend who is about to introduce her to the harsh realities of the music industry that will change her life.

Charlie has to endure a lot of artistic compromises, put aside her altruistic aspirations and follow along with the demands of the label’s publicity stunts.

Alison Luff told TNH about her character’s struggles and how realistic the portrayal is. She said that she has been blessed to have the career she aspires to have but ”her character’s compromises are very real.”

The musical features a score by Emmy award-winning songwriter and producer Cliff Downs(‘The Voice,’ American Idol,’) and is choreographed by Emmy Award winner Tyce Diorio, whose mother is from Sparta.

Known for being a guest judge on So You Think You Can Dance’, Diorio’s artistic collaborations are even more impressive as he has worked with such artists as Paula Abdul, Janet Jackson, Annie Lennox, Jennifer Lopez, Janet Jackson, and Ricky Martin. His latest work is choreography for Taylor Swift’s Red and 1989 world tours as well as her hit video ”Shake it Off.”

When Amanda introduces Charlie to the iconic lead singer Scorpio (Matt Magnusson), her road to music stardom begins the moment  she meets Scorpio’s label boss Jed Barnes, played cleverly by Robert W. Arbogast, who is focus on success and sales. He has no time for sentimentalities.

Originally, Scorpio was supposed to be played by Constantine Maroulis, who quit just a couple of weeks prior to the opening due to personal matters, as the Pasadena Playhouse indicated.

Mangusson told TNH about the experience and the challenge to come in to the production so late in the process: “I had  originally auditioned for the part of Smith but I did not get it. After I got the call I jumped at the opportunity to play Scorpio. I had to learn the part in less than 9 days and I am thrilled to be a part of the production.”  It is his debut with the Playhouse.

Epps has been part of the musical’s development for the last couple of years and he notes, ”It’s all original musical with an original story, which is so rare today. And the story comes from the experiences of the songwriters.”

Writer Kirsten Guenther was brought in  to make the characters darker and more realistic. Performances are through November 22, and more information is available at pasadenaplayhouse.org.



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