In only her second Broadway musical of her young career, Christiani Pitts has now placed herself onto the A List of stage stars. Coming off a stunning performance as Jane in a “Bronx Tale,” where Pitts had the opportunity to work with such heavyweights as Robert De Niro and Chazz Palminteri, she currently stars in “King Kong.”
Throughout the show, Pitts shares the stage with a 20-foot-high, 2,000-pound gorilla, which must be a tad imposing for any leading lady. Actually, the gorilla – a masterpiece of puppetry — turns out to be a loveable creature whom Pitts befriends against the advice of a self-promoting showman, played adroitly by the accomplished Eric William Morris.
Despite the omnipresent Kong, Pitts artfully manages to capture scene after scene with her powerful, melodic voice that often overrides the gorilla’s monstrous screams, quite a feat to say the least. As noted by Variety, “It’s not just the mammoth Kong that helps carry the show but also Pitts, who plays the marathon role of Ann with infinite resilience and resolve, and sings heroically.”
Directed and choreographed by Drew McOnie, this $35-million production based on the classic 1933 film was written by Jack Thorne, who also penned “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.” The score was composed by Marius de Vries with songs by Eddie Perfect.
Set in New York City during the Great Depression, “Kong” takes the audience on a mythical journey of hope and despair. The skilled supporting cast, led by Erik Lochtefeld and a polished ensemble – provide a perpetual energy, all the while allowing the captivating Pitts to take center stage.
The choice of Pitts was pure genius, and provides audiences with a reason to talk glowingly about the show beyond the mesmerizing presence of Kong itself. With performances like this, she’s fast becoming “Queen of New York,” which just happens to be the title of one of her songs.
A natural beauty, Pitts grew up in Decatur, Georgia, where sang in the church choir. “Southern Baptists are known for their singing so there was a lot of pressure to do well,” she said. “The choir had some of the best vocal coaches imaginable, so I learned an awful lot about singing with passion from them.” She later honed her vocal techniques while attending Florida State University while receiving a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts.
Now as a Broadway leading lady, Pitts has found a home in New York City. “It’s like a mythical dream land that never gets old,” she said. “While growing up in the south for most of my childhood I only heard about New York with its skyscrapers and bright lights. Since coming to New York I’ve begun to take yoga lessons which really helps alleviate some of the tension that comes with performing eight shows a week. I also enjoy trying different restaurants for dinner.”
There appears to be no ceiling for Pitts whose considerable talents could easily cross over onto the big screen or TV. However, for the time being audiences can find her lighting up the stage at the Broadway Theater.