On February 4th, Feinstein’s/54 Below will present a 20th anniversary concert production of Bright Lights, Big City. The rock musical is based on the novel by Jay McInerney. It follows the journey of Jamie, a young outstanding writer who loses himself in the chaos of 1980’s New York City. Written by Paul Scott Goodman, the first solo recipient of the Jonathan Larson Foundation Award, the musical originally premiered Off-Broadway in 1999.
The concert will feature Christy Altomare as Vicky and Matt Doyle as Jamie. We spoke with Christy about why she loves this musical and what it’s like to be playing Anastasia on Broadway.
What made you want to be apart of the Bright Lights, Big City concert?
I’m a huge fan of Paul Scott Goodman’s writing. I was first introduced to him through Sh-K-Boom/Ghostlight Records’ Kurt Deutsch who produced the Bright Lights, Big City concept album. At the time, I was working on a reading that Kurt had produced. I went to record the song for it and he had a bunch of extra Bright Lights, Big City CDs. He gave me one to take home and I listened. Obviously, it’s amazing music. After that, randomly, I got a call asking to be apart of a reading up in Powerhouse Theater. Sometimes readings sort of drag together in a way, but it was a reading performance that was done at a college. It was part of a festival, and it was of this show that Paul had written called Open Road and it took place in Scotland. So I had to have a Scottish accent. I remember meeting Paul and just being enamored with his incredible music. From time to time we’d keep in touch through Facebook Messenger. I’m just a huge fan of his work.
When they asked me to do this concert, my life was so crazy busy with Anastasia. Nobody ever prepares you to be a Broadway star on Broadway, but I’m so thankful and grateful to have had this opportunity for as long as I have. It just really does take a lot out of your body to give the kind of performance you want to give 8 shows a week. When this project came to me and was initially pitched, I heard ‘Paul Scott Goodman’ and was like ‘check!’, and then I heard it’s actually not a huge role. The role of Vicky, was originally played by Sherie Rene Scott on the concept album, who I also admire and love so much. To get to play a role that she played is pretty cool. When they said Paul Scott Goodman and the role isn’t as demanding… they told me months in advance, so I had plenty of time to learn the music, I was all in. And to have the opportunity to sing Paul’s music again is just the biggest gift in the world.
If they revived the show again, would you want to be a part of it?
Yes! Ultimately, we don’t know where our careers are going to take us or where our lives are going to take us, but absolutely if they ask me to do this I would be chomping at the bit to get to sing and be a part of this material. Not only is the music beautiful, but Paul is just a great guy with great vibes and getting to work with him is such a rewarding experience in and of itself. So, yeah, absolutely!
Can you relate to the character of Vicky?
Yes. She sings a song called “Kindness!” which is literally, me. Vicky encapsulate the things I care most about in life– it’s about being kind and being loving. The people who know me best know that I am fascinated by the human mind and the way it works and the way the universe works and what makes humans. That’s why I think art is so interesting, because we humans have this condition, I think it’s why we are so drawn to art in the first place. Vicky is a philosopher, she is very fascinated with modern man and why are people the way they are and that’s a dead ringer for who I am. I’ve often questioned “why can’t we all just be kind to one another?” but unfortunately the sadness of our genes and the way we were created, it’s just a part of life that we sink in and out of states of joy and kindness. At the end of the day, it’s hard work to live in a state of love and kindness, and I think that’s kind of beautiful that she kind of is that for Jaime. She’s that bright, shining light within the darkness, and I love that. And I love