Review Fix Exclusive: Joey McKneely Talks ‘Shadows’

Director Joey McKneely addresses the audience at Tuesday's preview of "West Side Story." STAFF PHOTO / DAN WAGNER

Review Fix chats with “Shadows” director and choreographer Joey McKneely, who details the creative process behind the show and more.

About the Production:

Shadows follows the secret romance of Claire (Janine Divita, who appeared on Broadway in Grease, Mystery of Edwin Drood, and Anything Goes plus on National Tour in Finding Neverland, If/Then, Young Frankenstein) and Alex (John Arthur Greene, who will be appearing in Tootsie on Broadway, with previous Broadway credits of School of Rock, West Side Story, Matilda, and on NBC in Peter Pan Live).

There is another romance – on the ethereal plane, uniquely explored through dance, led by Ms. Dvorovenko, featuring Waldemar Quinone-Villanueva (Broadway: West Side Story; former member of Ballet Hispanico); Nickemil Concepcion (Broadway: Cinderella; Off-Broadway in George C Wolfe’s On The Town and a former member of Eliot Feld’s Ballet Tech and Cedar Lake Dance Company); Naomi Kakuk (Broadway: Encores’Crazy for You; Chess; The Producers);  Kyreed Jordon (Indie film: Are You Holding Me, Or Am I Holding Myself?) and Omar Nieves (principle dancer, Virginal Ballet) 

Review Fix: What was the inspiration for this project? 

Joey McKneely: A desire to use dance as an equal narrative to the book. We wanted to try to be more innovative in the use of dance as a storytelling device. And since we both have spent quite a lot of time in Japan, we were interested in using their ghost stories as a springboard for the material. So this is how the dancers became the ghost in the story. 

Review Fix: What’s your creative process like?  

McKneely: Honest, open discussions. Listening to each other. Trusting each other.  Each member of the collaboration team are so talented that it was important to me to make sure their voices stood out.  It’s been a real balancing act. What gets musicalized? What’s missing in the plot? Where do the dances fit in the story.  Once we added all the music from Edison Woods, Maxim Moston and Karen Bishko, the show really started to become richer and multi-layered.  It’s been 9 yrs + to get to this point, so maybe my creative process could be called diligent with a focus on details. 

Review Fix: What makes this different or special from the original? 

McKneely: Well, Shadows is all original. It started as a play with dance and music. Then we added even more original music. Then it became a dance musical. I think we have inadvertently created a new form of theater. It’s very innovative what we are doing now. There really is nothing else like it. Or maybe we are a collection of all these really familiar things but just mixed up in a totally different way that no one has seen before.  

Review Fix: What did you learn about yourself through this process? 

McKneely: I for one, have learned patience. To not rush things so much. Take time and let the process work. Peculate as you will.  Because of this, I feel now I know how to truly be an artist. 

Review Fix: What are your ultimate goals for this production or your company for the future? 

McKneely: Ultimately, I would like this show to find the widest audience as possible.  They will see something unique, theatrical, melodic, sensual, emotional, dynamic and a bit spooky. So bringing something exciting to theater is, I guess, the super ultimate goal.  I do all of this not for myself, but for an audience that loves theater. 

Review Fix: What’s next? 

McKneely: Randall and I already have another project we would like to do, but Shadows is our first baby, so we want to see it soar first!  

About Patrick Hickey Jr. 9853 Articles
Patrick Hickey Jr. is the Founder, Editor-in-Chief, Master Jedi and Grand Pooh-bah of and is the author of the book, "The Minds Behind the Games: Interviews with Cult and Classic Video Game Developers," from leading academic and non-fiction publisher McFarland and Company. He is currently the Assistant Director of the Journalism Program at Kingsborough Community College and is a former News Editor at NBC Local Integrated Media and a National Video Games Writer at the late He has also had articles and photos published in The New York Times, The New York Daily News, Complex and The Syracuse Post-Standard. Love him. Read him.

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