Telling a story through movement
John Carrafa is a choreographer, but his oft-used credit “musical staging by” suggests that he does much, much more than put together dance steps for shows like “Dirty Blonde” and “Urinetown,” opening on Broadway in September.
“Whenever someone starts singing, that’s me,” he explains. “Choreography is just dance steps. Musical staging is an actor telling a story through movement.”
Director James Lapine offered Carrafa the musical staging credit on “Dirty Blonde,” “and I’ve stuck with it after that,” he explains of his theater work. For film (the sexy rumba in “The Thomas Crown Affair”) and television (incidental dances in “Sex and the City”), he’s happy to be known simply as choreographer.
Carrafa promises that “Urinetown” will be even “more subversive and crazier” when it reaches Broadway after a successful Off Broadway run. But how to restage the show’s act one finale where the actors spilled into the audience’s collective lap?
“On Broadway, the actors will literally fall about three feet,” he reveals. “We’ll put down pads for them.”
After “Urinetown,” Carrafa tackles Sondheim again and again in the new season, doing his musical staging thing for “Assassins” (Broadway), “Into the Woods” (Ahmanson Theater) and “A Little Night Music” (Kennedy Center).