BWW Interview: Janine DiVita Brings Her Intoxicating Show, LIT, to Feinstein's/54 Below
Actress of the screen and stage, Janine DiVita is coming to Feinstein's/54 Below this Wednesday with her intoxicating show, LIT! Appearing on Broadway in Grease, Anything Goes, and The Mystery of Edwin Drood, as well as on national tour in Young Frankenstein and IF/THEN, DiVita will relive some of her favorite tunes from these celebrated shows, as well as sharing her favorites from the road!
BroadwayWorld had the chance to speak to DiVita about her upcoming performances; musical influences; and how her career in threatre has shaped her life's journey and work.
How does a venue like 54 Below make for both a unique artist and audience experience?
Honestly, I love that it's the perfect combination of the two universal things that bring people together: music and food! The décor, the menu, the stage, the acoustics all make for a unique experience. It feels like a big dinner party- and I love that!
Can you sum up some of the most important lessons that your time on Broadway and national tour has taught you about life and career?
Oh wow. Where to begin? I feel like my show experiences have defined a big part of who I am as an adult. Every character I have played has helped me explore different sides of myself and grow into myself as an adult- whether it was discover that I could be vulnerable or brave or silly or whatever- each character has helped me uncover new facets of myself. Not to mention how just the requirements of openness and fluidity in this lifestyle of constant adaptation and reinvention makes you grow up quickly and really own who you are. Plus, theatre people are the best. Every person I have met in the companies I have worked in and the people at the stage door who I have met have taught me something. I don't believe we meet people by accident, and those connections you make, whether they last a day or a lifetime, have taught me, inspired me, and opened up my mind.
You will be sharing the songs that audiences didn't get to hear from your time on the road. How do you hope to give these songs new life?
Well, simply because I am at a different point in my own life now than when I preformed the songs- that will inevitably make them different. "Where you are now" is always a place I like to approach something in cabaret because it comes from a place of pure truth. Plus, there are really cool and humorous medleys, mashups, and new arrangements that breathe fresh air into the more familiar songs, without losing their integrity.
What would you like audiences to take away? Any specific messages/themes?
That joy is real! I think we spend a lot of time thinking that sadness is real without believing that joy and invigoration is just as real - and worth fighting for! My show is a joyful celebration of the past and a big hello to the future!
Where have most of your own personal musical influences come from, whether they be musical theatre or mainstream?
I love every genre of music and I'm lucky enough to have been exposed to all different kinds of music from a young age. My parents listened to a lot of Van Morrison, Cat Stevens, James Taylor and all that great folk music. My grandmother loved Dean Martin and Connie Francis. My childhood voice teacher would have me sing Puccini, Lerner and Lowe, and Rodgers and Hammerstein. When I got to college at the University of Michigan, I moved into more of a contemporary musical theatre sound and explored jazz. I've always loved rap to pump me up (surprise!) and throwback pop music. Give me Celine Dion every day of my life!
Where do you hope your career will take you next - any dream roles/opportunities?
I would definitely like to find myself back on the Broadway stage in the right role and the right show because I love live theatre more than anything. I've done some television and film work in the recent years and hope to do more of that kind of work, as well, because the roles and shows are getting so ridiculously good. I'm also really passionate about thinking outside the box and using as much of my creative wellspring and intellect as possible. In that light, I have started writing and collaborating with other writers on various projects, including a screen play that is in the early stages of pre-production, and I co-founded a company called Empowered Voices that utilizes theatrical techniques within traditional prevention education realms to help prevent sexual harassment and assault, particularly within The Armed Forces. I personally think that us actors are super demonstrative and intelligent people who are also master connectors, and that there is so much we can do. It's taken me a while to get to that place of understanding- but I really just want to joyfully DO instead of hopefully WAIT.
Catch Janine at Feinstein's/54 Below on Wednesday, November 15th @ 9:30 p.m. For info and tickets, visit: https://54below.com/events/janine-divita-2/