On a cold evening, petite early twenties brunette ballet dancer Brooke Di Spirito staged a one-night concert adapted from F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel The Beautiful and Damned at a low-lighting New York City nightclub on Jan 17. “I started lobbying for this show to be on stage in late 2019,” Brooke said. “It’s hard to put into words how much it means to me to put on the show.”
Brooke flexes literature tidbits here and there to her favorite trend from the Jazz age. “It’s hard to pick one, but I’d probably go with the bobbed hair,” Brooke said. “In The Beautiful and Damned predates the 20s by a few years in the setting. The main character bobs her hair in a couple of chapters. Fitzgerald describes how the style would not be popular for a few years was the reaction when Zelda bobbed her hair right before. Some people say she single-handedly popularized the hairstyle.”
After dancing twice at The Youth America Grand Prix and earning numerous credits to accepting an award for artistry at the World Ballet Arts Competition, Brooke voiced a passion for everything she read by Fitzgerald to throw more Fitzgerald tidbits. “I’d have to say that besides The Beautiful and Damned, what I was most affected by were the letters he and Zelda wrote to each other in a book called “Dear, Dearest Zelda,” Brooke said. “It took me three tries to get through the first fifty pages because the way they wrote to each other is so genuine and powerful. It’s amazing to see how the sentiment expressed by him or Zelda and how he adapted it for fiction. We all know that his ‘fiction’ was often based in reality.”
Three years after Brooke graduated from college in 2021 and moved to New York City, Brooke expressed why The Broadway Supper Club is a meaningful location for her to perform a show there.
Relentlessly working for Brooke to steer this production through the COVID-19 pandemic where she had fully cast many other versions of this show, unfortunately not one of which made it to the stage. Happily, Brooke booked summer 2022 performance dates at the Jeanne Rimsky Theater.
One month into the 2020 pandemic, a performance of this show was supposed to take place at an out-of-state college. “In 2021, I organized a virtual workshop to culminate in a live performance in the spring,” Brooke said. “Canceled due to covid, and an entirely new group of actors and musicians did not get to perform at that time.”
At the end of 2021, the same show mentioned earlier was supposed to take the stage in Long Island. Yet, one week before, the show was canceled due to omicron. “Again, another group of actors and musicians, this time from New York, never got to perform,” Brooke expressed. “These are cases where all the songs, dance, and lines were completely learned and memorized, and we were ready to go on.”
Throughout the three years, Brooke remembers working through 30 iterations of the script and the music. To explain, The Beautiful and Damned previous casts learned the original arrangement, but Brooke made changes, and the first one never existed again. By summer 2022 rolled around, the show cast and Brooke were relieved of performing at any location. “A few of the performers had been with us previously, but many of them and the musicians were new…, Brooke said. “I owe so much to everyone who put their energy into this project.”
Brooke remembers the previous actors and musicians who never got the opportunity to perform in the other iterations. “I think about them all of the time,” Brooke said. “I am so grateful that we finally made it to the stage, but I will remember the people who did not get to come with us to perform at 54 Below is in no small part to all of their hard work.”
In her wildest dreams, Brooke will be thinking on the stage facing a seated audience on Tuesday night of January. “What more could I ask for?” Brooke expressed. “It’s so cool to be here with such talented and dedicated people.”
Months passed since the arrival of the adapted concert to F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Beautiful and Damned performed at 54 Below, and no social media activity on the show's Instagram in addition to no comment from the ballet dancer Brooke Di Spirito.
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