Crushing It! Antoinette DiPietropolo Cruises to Success

By Kimberly Dijkstra

May 28, 2021 — Directing, producing, choreography, acting, and dancing – it’s not an understatement to say Antoinette DiPietropolo does it all. Her passion for storytelling through movement and comedy comes through in every production she is a part of – from Broadway national tours to regional theater.

“It’s so rewarding to make sure that the stories of musical theater are being told in such a high-quality way regionally,” DiPietropolo said. “It’s really exciting because these stories are important.”

A memorable moment in a career that has taken her all over the world, DiPietropolo recalls tap dancing in a number with Broadway icon Bernadette Peters at Radio City Music Hall. At 4 feet 9¾ inches, DiPietropolo was the shortest of the “Bernadette Peters-sized Rockettes,” even shorter than Peters’ 5 feet 3 inches, and their heights played into the comedy gag.

By sheer coincidence, her rock-climbing buddies turned out to be Peters’ husband and brother-in-law and two worlds collided at that performance.

“I heard my friends laughing and they were like, ‘look how short Antoinette is next to Bernadette,” she recalled. “It’s about human connection, and that’s why that moment was so special – not because Bernadette was famous or because I was there performing in Radio City for the first time. It was literally so humbling. It was because my friends were so entertained by this funny moment.”

The COVID-19 pandemic which struck last March has been a challenge for everyone in the theater world. With theaters and entertainment venues closed indefinitely, DiPietropolo had to shift her focus to other projects.

In addition to offering classes and coaching over Zoom, DiPietropolo has spent her unexpected free time creating new shows. Cruise Thru Events, her events company, offers a unique experience to those seeking art and entertainment in a safe environment.

The event takes place in a parking garage in Atlantic City, NJ. Guests drive through thousands of bubbles, poetry displays, and art installations, and stop to listen to live music at each station for as long as they like. Broadway singers and musicians are featured and renowned saxophone player Adrian Crutchfield, known for recording with Prince, has done a stint in the show.

“I made sure art was still happening in a safe way for people,” DiPietropolo said.

The interactive experience that culminates in a light show on the rooftop is expanding to other cities.

DiPietropolo has also been working on an upcoming tour of Cirque Musica, which combines cirque thrills with symphonic music, and “MasterChef Junior Live!”

“We’re taking some of the ‘MasterChef’ contestants and adding them to the ‘Junior’ show,” she explained.

While many industries have adapted easily to remote work, the theater community has had to find unique ways to cope with the pandemic.

“We had to band together to make sure that we could support each other through this time that’s very confusing for other people who are not in the arts,” said DiPietropolo, who has gone the extra mile supporting her friends by helping them navigate the unemployment system, apply for PPP loans and grants, and to understand their health insurance options.

As the promise of live theater returning gets closer and closer, DiPietropolo said she is looking forward to experiencing the energy of the community after being physically separated this past year.

“Sitting in a theater and collective laughter happens, I can’t wait for that energy,” she said. “If I’m the person who directed that scene…and I was able to make people smile after this, I’m really excited for that."

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