B-Side Flyway Film Festival Screenings
B-Side will be screening at Wisconsin’s Flyway Film Festival on October 20 at 4pm! Tickets are $9.43 and available here.
Posted on Oct 14th, 2013
Posted by renee in b-side
B-Side to screen at the Orlando Film Festival
B-Side will be playing on October 18th and 19th at the Orlando Film Festival! Tickets are available here.
Posted on Aug 29th, 2013
Posted by renee in b-side
HQ Photoshoot Update
I’ve added 3 HQ photos from a photoshoot Jennifer did with her Spider-man costar Reeve Carney back in 2011.
Posted on Aug 16th, 2013
Posted by renee in gallery
B-Side Gallery Updates
I’ve added over 200 HD screencaptures from the B-Side trailer to the gallery, as well as two missing stills.
Posted on Jun 19th, 2013
Posted by renee in b-side
NY Daily News Review of Venice
Best of all is Damiano, known for “Next to Normal” and “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.” She’s got a beautiful presence and voice to match. Whenever she sings, which is often, “Venice,” a title that conjures a sinking city, gets a welcome lift.
Read the full review
Posted on Jun 19th, 2013
Posted by renee in venice
Review: ‘Venice’ at the Public Theater is a pulsating hip-hop musical adventure
The rafters are shaking downtown at the Public Theater, where the dynamic new hip-hop musical, “Venice,” is rocking the Anspacher Theater. It’s a potent, dystopian mashup of rap music, Shakespeare’s “Othello,” sibling rivalry and political intrigue. And there’s a sweet love story, too.
Intricate vocal harmonies infuse the pulsating anthems and ballads performed by a youthful, energetic cast, and the staging is acrobatic and effective, in the irresistible Public Lab production that opened Thursday night. Director Eric Rosen co-created the book and co-wrote the lyrics with Matt Sax, who wrote the music.
The complex, often-operatic score, which includes additional music by Curtis Moore, delineates character and creates a moody atmosphere while compellingly advancing the story. Chase Brock’s versatile choreography creates a feverish sense of foot-stomping rebellion, as well as somber, elegiac moments.
Haaz Sleiman and Leslie Odom Jr. play half-brothers on opposite sides of a feud that has divided the citizens of a once-peaceful city. Sleiman is charismatic and regal as Venice, the leader of the freedom movement, while Odom gives a sly appeal to Markos, his jealous, Machiavellian brother who heads the military occupiers.
Jennifer Damiano exudes angelic goodness and sings beautifully as Willow, the symbol of unity that could reunite the divided city. As Venice’s childhood sweetheart, Willow has several ardent duets with Sleiman, including the lovely, “Waited All These Years.” Damiano’s voice soars on “If Only,” a song of regret over the death of a dear friend.
Sax affectingly plays an emcee called Clown, who narrates the turbulent story, often rapping while the walls of the Anspacher fill up with typed projections of his dialogue. Powerful bureaucrat Theo Westbrook (given heart by Jonathan-David) surprisingly sings one of the show’s sweeter refrains, “I wanna love and be loved,” even in the midst of the uprising.
The rest of the cast is terrific, with Claybourne Elder providing gravitas as Willow’s and Venice’s staunch ally, Michael. Uzo Aduba makes a powerful impression as Anna, the mournful ghost of Venice and Markos’ mother. Victoria Platt expressively portrays Markos’ duped wife Emilia, and a sexily feral Angela Polk stands out in a sizzling, cat-suited number called “Hailey Daisy.”
The fine performances, kinetic imagery, haunting melodies and memorable lyrics combine to make “Venice” an adventurous, winning musical experience.
Posted on Jun 14th, 2013
Posted by renee in venice
Jennifer Damiano’s next chapter has no fireworks
The shift from Jennifer Damiano’s last workplace to her new one is striking.
The old one was the biggest theater in Times Square, with 2,000 or so seats. The new one is downtown and has room for just 275. The old stage — the setting for the most expensive musical on Broadway — had pyrotechnics and aerial stunts. Her new stage has just a bare scaffolding and a chair.
“It’s such a shift but I’m happy for that,” Damiano said during a recent interview at The Public Theater. “It feels very different, very intimate, which is what I needed.”
Damiano is following up her role as Mary Jane Watson in “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” with a darker, less cartoonish young woman in “Venice,” a thrilling musical that debuts at the Public this month. It marks her return to the stage after taking time off after a five-year nonstop grind.
“This project just came up right at the perfect time. I had taken a little bit of time (off) and it just kind of happened,” she said. “I honestly wasn’t sure what the next thing would be at all, even if it would be theater. But I can’t stay away from the new musicals.”
“Venice,” which has been incubating for five years, is a collaboration between Eric Rosen and Matt Sax and can best be described as an “Othello”-inspired futuristic hip-hop musical. The story centers on an attempt by a dynamic new leader to reunite his war-fractured city of Venice, still reeling from a terrorist attack.
Damiano, who grew up in Westchester County, N.Y., plays the leader’s bride-to-be, Willow, who may or may not be lying about whom she really loves. The body count mounts as jealousy and ambition run rampant.
“It’s so new and so its own thing,” says Damiano, who celebrated her 22nd birthday last month during rehearsals. “It just felt like the perfect role for me at this age and this moment in my life.”
Rosen wrote the book, Sax composed the songs and stars as the rapping narrator, and the two combined forces on the lyrics. They pursued Damiano and got her to say yes on the third attempt.
“We knew the purity of her voice, and the simplicity of her acting style was such a huge dream for us,” said Rosen, who also directs. “It’s a totally different vibe for her and I think she’s really thriving in it. She grows more and more every day.”
Sax said two songs in the show have even been written with Damiano in mind and with her input. “She has such a soulful spirit when she sings. I think we’re really lucky that she’s part of the team and also lucky that she’s invested her heart in the show,” he said.
Damiano may be young but she’s a stage veteran. She made her Broadway debut as an understudy in 2006 in “Spring Awakening” at 15 — so young that she almost got into legal trouble.
She had been rehearsing for parts that included simulating onstage sex but the creative team found out that New York City law prohibits actors under 17 from such acts. So she took over another part. “Thank God they didn’t know this when they cast me,” she said.
Damiano’s next job was as an overachieving daughter in “Next to Normal,” for which she earned a Tony Award nomination. She went from that to Spider-Man’s love interest, riding that roller coaster until late 2011.
Despite all the bad press, the accidents and the internal fights, Damiano doesn’t regret being part of the show. She was never herself injured, and she made lifelong friends.
“There was a big, big heart in the building. There was a lot of love and cast camaraderie. It was always a challenge — the way every kind of new work is,” she said.
“When you’re 19 or 20 and going through general growing pains of your own, that on top of that is overwhelming, but I wouldn’t take it back for the world.”
In total, she had just done five years of solid work for a young woman who had left high school after just one year and missed her prom. She finished her high school course work with a tutor in Washington, D.C., where “Next to Normal” was being worked on before it landed on Broadway.
That summer, her mother insisted she skip the musical on graduation day and walk with her class. “I didn’t want to go and my mom made me call out of a show,” she said. “My life is just different. It’s some other beast.”
‘I’M OLD NOW’
After “Spider-Man,” Damiano did some TV pilots and dabbled in film. She currently stars in the indie movie “B-Side” as a pop star who falls for a DJ played by Ryan Eggold. Damiano also took time to reconnect with her family and focus on her personal life after years of eight-show weeks.
She turned 22 on May 12 but made no fuss. “Twenty-two is just such a random age. It’s a little blah. I didn’t do much. It was so low-key. I even told my family, ‘Don’t get me anything, it’s fine,’” she said with a laugh. “I’m old now.”
These days, she is energized by working with young people on a musical she feels her generation will connect with. Plus, she gets to do it at the Public: “I get a summer camp kind of theater vibe,” she said with a laugh.
Rosen said that while Damiano can light up a room with her smile, she also radiates depth. “She brings a kind of darkness that I really wanted for Willow — not just ingenue, not just pretty-girl-saves-the-day but someone with a lot of gravitas.”
There’s another benefit of starring downtown in a cool new show: her friends can see her. That wasn’t an option when she was on Broadway and tickets were more than $150.
Now to see her it only costs $15.
“Fifteen bucks!” she said. “My friends say, ‘What? I’ll be there every day.’”
Venice Promotional Photos
I’ve added two photos from the Venice promotional photo shoot (including one in HQ) to the gallery.
Don’t forget, Venice has been extended by a week and tickets are still available!
Posted on Jun 8th, 2013
Posted by renee in gallery
Venice has been extended by a week! Instead of closing on June 23, the show will now close on June 30.
Posted on Jun 6th, 2013
Posted by renee in venice
Catching up with Jennifer Damiano
Question: Although we’ve spoken before, I’ve never asked where you born and raised…
Jennifer Damiano: I was born in Westchester, NY. I grew up around the Rye Brook area, and then I moved to White Plains with my family.
Question: How old were you when you started performing?
Damiano: I think I started performing when I was about nine years old.
Question: When you were growing up, were there any actors or singers who influenced you?
Damiano: I was pretty new to the Broadway world once I began working in it. I hadn’t really grown up being too aware of that many shows or that many actors in shows. I was always obsessed with Judy Garland though. Obviously, I watched “The Wizard of Oz” all the time, and I wanted to be her. [Laughs.]
Question: When do you think performing changed from a hobby to when you knew it was going to be your career?
Damiano: I think it probably changed during Spring Awakening. It was hard because at that point I was in tenth grade, so it still kind of felt like a hobby. But once I got out of high school and was doing Next to Normal, I realized that that was what I was supposed to be doing. Working during high school, no matter what, kind of makes you feel like it’s an after-school activity. I mean, it never really was that, but that only became clear after I was completely finished with school and kind of realized that this was it.
Question: Last time we spoke, you were in previews for Spider-Man with all the news swirling around. Looking back at the whole experience, what do you remember most from being a part of that production?
Damiano: There’s no learning experience like that! [Laughs.] I think I remember most the feeling of enduring, and performing becoming about more than performing…becoming about courage and strength and bravery and mostly just the internal struggles that you go through in a process like that and how you overcome that and how we all did that together.
Question: Do you think all of what was happening in and around the show drew the cast closer in a way?
Damiano: Yeah, I think that I’ll never have another experience like that. I think we can all say that. [Laughs.] But I believe we kind of collectively came together as these kind of warriors of our own craft. It was like a collective – like we were all running a marathon together. It felt like some sort of athletic feat that we all pulled off together, and I just remember most that feeling.
Question: How did you get involved with Venice?
Damiano: I got involved with Venice through my manager—you know, normally how one gets involved with a project. [Laughs.] It was a pretty fast process. And, it’s already going by so fast.
Question: Had you been involved with any of the other workshops of the musical?
Damiano. No, I wasn’t involved with any of the workshops. This is my first time, but it’s cool to have a bunch of people in the cast that have already done it before and then a few new people.
Question: Without giving too much away, can you talk a little bit about the plot?
Damiano: I think for the most part it’s a love story about two younger people that have to grow up too fast in order to help the world and their community. Two people that come together under the impression that their being together will be a good thing for their country.
Question: Tell me about the character you’re playing?
Damiano: I’m playing Willow. She is a young girl who has had to grow up a little too fast. She’s been through a lot of loss, but she’s really strong and she resembles a symbol of hope and strength throughout the entire show. She’s a little older than the characters I’ve played in the past, so that’s kind of cool to grow up a little bit and play someone a little older. I don’t know what else to say without saying what happens! [Laughs.]
Question: What’s the score like?
Damiano: The score is incredible. Matt Sax has done something really unique, and with the help of Eric Rosen, our director, it’s become something that I think will really make an impression on people. You can kind of usually tell when it’s going to be something or it might not be. But it feels like it will really resonate, especially with younger crowds, which I think is so important—especially younger crowds that aren’t that aware of musical theatre or that up to date with it. This is a cool segue into it through the things they are already listening to, more of that rap and rock world. I love the way the score invites everyone in.
Question Tell me a bit about working with Eric Rosen, who not only wrote the lyrics but is also directing the show.
Damiano: He’s so great. He is so kind and works with you. He lets me really have ideas and use them. It feels very much like a partnership between actor and director, which is not always how it feels. It’s been so great with him. He does a really, really great job and has never done anything that I could possibly be upset about.
Question: You mentioned that the character you’re playing is one who had to grow up fast. I wonder if you relate to that because you were performing on Broadway in high school…
Damiano: Yes, absolutely I feel that way. I know a lot of kids grow up in the business, whether it’s from the time you’re literally a baby to around your teens. But growing up on the stage is a little bit different. The schedule is a little bit different. It’s kind of a rare place to go through some of your teenage years in, but when I look back, I think it’s kind of exactly how I think it was supposed to happen for me, but it’s hard when you have to save your voice and all your friends are going out. I know a lot of younger kids at work deal with that, so it’s hard, but I know how to take my time and kind of have a second to myself because I know that’s really important. After Spider-Man I had time before treading back into the business with Venice. I think the concept of growing up too fast these days is so subjective, but obviously I wouldn’t have had it any other way than having grown up doing these shows and working with these amazing people.
Question: You’ve really gotten to be part of not only high-profile productions, but groundbreaking work like Next to Normal.
Damiano: It’s crazy because when I was doing Next to Normal at Second Stage, no one really knew what would happen. What I love about Venice is that it is just like a lot of those shows, completely original and completely unique. And it’s new, so new, and we need new musicals, really different ones that can resonate with people, especially young people, in the way that Spring Awakening and Next to Normal did. I think I’ve been really lucky to be a part of things that have been able to move people so greatly.
Question: I wonder if you’ve given any thought to putting out your own solo recording.
Damiano: I’ve thought about that — I think everybody thinks about that. In the past it’s been that I’ve just been busy doing shows, and I want to be able to focus [on a recording]. But now that I have some time to think about it, it’s kind of crazy that I haven’t! I really should. It’s possible that I will—I just want to make sure it’s the right kind of music and right kind of thing that I would feel good about putting out to the world. I’d have to think pretty hard about it, but it’s definitely a possibility in my future.
Question: What kind of music do you gravitate towards? If you were to sing non-theatre music or give a concert, what kind of music would you like to perform?
Damiano: I listen to a lot of Indie or rock music. Female artists I love the most are Fiona Apple, Paramour and Regina Spektor—those girls that really write amazing songs themselves, and they’re younger and cool. I’m not quite sure I could ever write songs like any of them, but if I could, I would. [Laughs.] I think the normal [artists]… I don’t listen to anything that unusual.
Question: Do you have other projects in the works or are you just focusing on Venice at the moment?
Damiano: I’m just focusing on Venice. You never know what can happen at any second. It’s definitely worth my time, and being at The Public is an amazing experience. I’ve never worked there before, and I’m just so excited. I hope everyone is as excited as I am!
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