By Kevin Zimmerman
Performers often make the journey from stage and screen to politics, but U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Astoria) plans to make the leap in the opposite direction.
On Monday Maloney, who represents Astoria, Long Island City and parts of Woodside, is set to appear in the American Ballet Theatre’s production of “Romeo & Juliet” at the Metropolitan Opera House in Lincoln Center. Maloney takes on the part of a body inside the Capulet family crypt, where Romeo enters to mourn the loss of Juliet in the ballet’s third act.
The congresswoman’s trip from House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) world to that of Mikhail Baryshnikov’s came about through her friendship with an ABT official.
“Board member Sharon Patrick said, ‘I’m going to be playing a corpse in the production,’ and Carolyn thought that was a hoot,” Kelly Ryan, spokeswoman for the ballet, said.
At one point in her life, Maloney toyed with the idea of a career in dance, but injuries from a car accident when she was in her teens dashed that dream, a spokesman for the congresswoman said. Although she has served in Congress for more than two decades, along the way she has discovered plenty of opportunities to perform in small parts in New York and Washington, D.C.
“She has appeared in productions at Queens Theatre in the Park and in shows at On the Hill in Washington making these cameos in the past,” Maloney’s spokesman said.
Maloney’s non-dancing part is what the ballet calls a supernumerary role, Ryan said. The spokeswoman likened it to that of an extra in a movie production.
“We often have regular civilians populate the stage,” Ryan said. “They may carry a spear or just stand there.”
Ryan said she was not sure if the people playing the bodies remain on stage for the entire 38-minute act or if the crypts are moved away as the storyline progresses.
Either way, Ryan said, as a former ballet student and strong supporter of ABT, Maloney’s casting just made sense.
“She loves the ballet and often attends our performances,” Ryan said. “We are pleased as punch to have her here.”
And while Maloney may be happy making her ABT debut next week, her spokesman said the congresswoman has no plans to switch career paths.
“She was quoted telling a reporter, ‘I’m not quitting my day job,’” her spokesman said.
Reach news editor Kevin Zimmerman at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4541.