Interview: Christopher Rice-Thomson On Embracing the Roles of Director and Choreographer

Diving into the World of Directing and Choreographing

By: Feb. 28, 2024
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Interview: Christopher Rice-Thomson On Embracing the Roles of Director and Choreographer
Photo courtesy of Chrstopher Rice - Thomson

Christopher Rice-Thomson is a dynamic performer and creative force within the realm of Broadway, National Touring, and on-screen productions. Additionally, he has made significant contributions as a director, choreographer, and social media content creator for both Broadway productions and iconic brands.

In our conversation with Christopher, we delve into his transition from performing on stage to embracing the roles of director and choreographer. We also discuss his future plans, and where he hopes to visit the next time he's in Minnesota.

What inspired your transition from being on stage to embracing the roles of Director and Choreographer? 

Even though I have been performing on Broadway and on tour since 2011, I have been directing and choreographing for as long as I can remember. For my 5th Birthday party, my mom asked me what I wanted to do, and I responded, “I want to direct a play”. And that’s what we did for my 5th birthday. Pretty typical for 5-year-olds, right? Thankfully, I have supportive parents. From short films filmed in my backyard in high school with my friends, to directing and choreographing projects in college and beyond, it’s been a big part of my life for years. Now, I just feel like I am leaning into something that has been calling me my whole life. It feels right.

What aspects of directing and choreographing do you find most enjoyable?

There are many aspects of directing and choreographing that resonate with me. 

I’m a big believer that everything starts at the top. If the director is uplifting, supportive, and trusting with the performers and designers, they all will embrace those qualities in their work. I love making people feel seen and trusted so they feel safe to make choices and take risks. 

Additionally, there are so many talented artists in the industry. Many of them are between shows or haven’t received opportunities at the caliber of which they can perform. Bringing amazing humans who are outstanding artists together is always a superb experience in the rehearsal space and becomes a beautiful experience for audiences as well.

I’m also extremely story driven. I love diving into the script, crafting the concept, and building out the world of the show. Guiding the cast and designers towards the same goal of telling the story as clearly and honestly as possible is so rewarding.

Do you gravitate towards a particular type of project when directing? If so, what draws you to it?

I am drawn to big, musical theatre pieces. Recently, I’ve helmed productions of R&H’s Cinderella and Disney’s The Little Mermaid and felt like I was really in my sweet spot. As a “big picture” kind of guy, I love working in these larger-than-life worlds that have a million different things going on. I find it a wonderful challenge to provide audiences with the wow-factor they expect with those types of pieces but keeping them surprised as well. It gets my creative wheels turning and it’s so fulfilling to know we delivered! 

Is there a specific style of dance that you prefer choreographing over others?

That’s an excellent question. Of course, it depends on the need of the show or project. But broadly, my top answers are what I would call street jazz (think “Hamilton”), classic Broadway, and tap. 

Could you share your goals and aspirations as a director and choreographer?

My goal is to be a Director and Choreographer of shows on Broadway and beyond that leave the actors and audiences feeling inspired, moved, and ready to go take the world by storm. I see myself doing big, new musicals and big revivals of classic shows. 

Is there a dream show that you want to choreograph and direct? 

I have a running list. At the top of my list, I have Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Urinetown, Batboy, Elf, and Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame. 

Are there any current or upcoming theatrical projects you're involved in that you can discuss? 

I’m choreographing a musical at a big theatre in New Jersey in April and choreographing an outdoor immersive production of a big, hit Broadway musical in May in Virginia. Just can’t share the details yet. 

I am also currently on the social media team for The Great Gatsby on Broadway, which is currently in rehearsals and will open at the Broadway Theatre in the coming weeks. Social media has been a big part of my life for the last decade or so and this felt like a wonderful opportunity to, not only create story-focused content for a new show, but to learn what it takes to open a big, Broadway musical from this close viewpoint as well. 

What are some of your favorite spots in Minnesota, or are there places you're eager to explore next time you're in the state? 

I’ve always wanted to see the falls at Gooseberry Falls State Park, and I’d love to experience a show at the famous Guthrie Theatre! Hopefully, I can direct and choreograph a musical out there soon!

Thank you, Christopher, for sharing your insights with us! We eagerly anticipate your upcoming projects and eagerly await your visit to Minnesota soon!

To learn more about Christopher, please visit his website here.