Best of Manhattan: Arts & Culture

The Editors | December 30, 2016 | Feature Features

We are a town of beautiful ideas, of course, and all of the big ones—from the arts to design to food—take center stage throughout the next 12 pages. Consider this your carefully curated primer for the season ahead. Happy 2017!
The famed Bullet of the original Hamilton cast, Ariana DeBose, brings spunk and sass to Jane in Chazz Palminteri's A Bronx Tale.

The Bronx Bullet
Spunky and charismatic come to mind when first encountering the infectious personality of Ariana DeBose, an actress, singer and dancer you can’t resist wanting to be friends with. Some may recognize her as one of the top 20 contestants on season 6 of So You Think You Can Dance, but the turning point in DeBose’s career was making her Great White Way debut almost six years ago in Stephen Sondhiem’s Company with the New York Philharmonic, working alongside stage greats like Neil Patrick Harris and Patti LuPone. She went on to originate the role of Motown the Musical’s Mary Wilson and conquered the part of Leading Player in Pippin, which she claims has been her most challenging role to date—she had to act, dance, sing and learn to fly trapeze.

In 2015, DeBose skyrocketed to fame as an original company member of the Pulitzer Prize- and 11-time Tony Award-winning show, Hamilton. Her role of The Bullet in the show’s climactic duel scene resulted in her own hashtag, #theBullet, which still follows her today. Now referred to as the “Bronx Bullet,” DeBose steps into the shoes of Jane in Chazz Palminteri’s A Bronx Tale, directed by Jerry Zaks and Robert De Niro with music and lyrics by Alan Menken and Glenn Slater.

DeBose hopes to make Jane “as dynamic as humanly possible,” an “all-American girl with brains and sass.” When speaking about her co-workers, she says, “This is one of the warmest companies I’ve ever had the pleasure to be amongst. The show is about family, and that translates on[stage] and offstage. I’ve also [been able] to sharpen my skills with the king of theatrical comedy [Zaks] and learn nuance and subtlety from an acting legend [De Niro].”

This determined, talented young woman is making strides in the theater world, with more to come in various other performance sectors; she is currently working on a solo venture. “I’d love to do a political drama or a period piece in the style of Sense and Sensibility or Game of Thrones,” she says. “Both surround smart, witty, powerful women. It would be nice, as a woman of color, to play a character other than a slave in a period piece. I’d also love to do a romantic comedy. I pride myself on being versatile, and I don’t believe in limits. My dream role has yet to be written. I want my career to look like a fabulous trail mix of diverse, complex and unexpected characters spanning film, television and the stage.”


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