By Debbie Hall
Director and Choreographer: part of the success for hit show ‘Rock of Ages’
Director Kristin Hanggi and choreographer Kelly Devine for “Rock of Ages,” the resident show in The Venetian | The Palazzo in Las Vegas, demonstrate the power of women in theater.
Hanggi was nominated for a 2009 Tony for Best Direction of a Musical for “Rock of Ages.” She also helmed the Toronto, Off-Broadway, Australia, national tour and developmental productions. Her other works include the hit musicals “Ann E. Wrecksick” and “Catch the Fish” (New York Fringe Best Play). Other works feature “And the Curtain Rises” (Signature Theatre); Pussycat Dolls Live at the Roxy with Gwen Stefani, Christina Aguilera and Charlize Theron; the L.A. premiere of “CorpusChristi” (Ticketholder Award); “12th Premise;” “40 Days;” “Crane, Mississippi;” “Greystone” and “Wayside.” As a film director, Hanggi is preparing “Dear Dumb Diary” for Zucker Productions and “Naomi + Ely’s No Kiss List” with Hayden Panettiere. She just finished production on her debut feature film, “Grantham & Rose.”
“I knew I always wanted to be a director,” Hanggi said. “I feel it was just in me and this is what I was born to do. Ever since I was a little kid, I have been putting on shows.”
As for being a woman who is also a director, she said, “Especially in musical theater, male musical directors have been at the helm such as Hal Prince and Bob Fosse.” Hanggi believes that female directors are now directing musical theater due to pioneers such as Julie Taymor. “The female directors had a vision and thrived, opening the doors for directors such as me. Broadway is a small little group so I feel blessed to have ‘Rock of Ages’ accepted and loved by people.”
Devine is an internationally recognized and award winning choreographer whose work spans film, television and live performance. On Broadway this includes “Rock of Ages;” “Rock of Ages” first national tour, London, Australia (Green Room Award, Helpman Award), Toronto (Dora Award nom.); “Jersey Boys” (Assoc. Choreographer) and “Memphis” (Assoc. Choreographer). She has worked in opera: Faust at the Metropolitan Opera House/London Coliseum. Her off-Broadway work includes “Frankenstein” and “Ann E. Wrecksick.” La Jolla Playhouse: Peter and the Starcatcher (in association with Disney Theatricals); Fat Camp, Off-Broadway, American Theater of Actors; Zhivago (Australia; Helpman Nomination) and Private Fittings. She is currently working on Broadway with “Toxic Avenger” and “Rocky.”
She worked with a number of dance teachers who specialized in one specific dance style so she was trained in ballet, tap, jazz and hip-hop giving her a broad background in dance. It was Devine’s mother who put her in dance class when she was very young and Devine knew this is what she wanted to do.
According to Devine, “There are very few working female choreographers, specifically on Broadway musicals. It is probably 30 percent women to 70 percent men.” She grew up in Los Angeles, worked with great directors and, according to Devine, focused on her craft to attain her current success.
“Rock of Ages” is the timeless story of boy meets girl, boy loses girl and boy finally gets girl in 1987 Los Angeles on the Sunset Strip. “Rock of Ages” is performing at The Venetian | The Palazzo Tuesday to Sunday (dark Monday). Show times are Tuesday to Friday and Sunday at 8 p.m. with two shows on Saturday at 7 and 10 p.m. For tickets and more information, visit rockofagesvegas.com.