Niskayuna native Dominic Fallacaro has a lengthy list of things he’s checked off his bucket list over the last few years.
The musician/producer has won a Grammy Award; written music for “Sesame Street” and orchestrated music for “In the Heights,” worked with Swedish smash hit songwriter/producer Max Martin on the musical “& Juliet,” and played piano at Abbey Road Studios.
The latest check mark will come when “& Juliet” opens on Broadway this fall.
Fallacaro, who graduated from Niskayuna High School in 2004 and lives in Brooklyn, is the show’s musical director. He became involved with the production around 2017 when the musical was in its early stages.
It’s a pop-song-infused show that reimagines the ending of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” asking “what if Juliet doesn’t die at the end?” using Martin’s music, along with a book by David West Read, to tell the tale.
Martin is famous for crafting earworms like “. . . Baby One More Time,” “I Want It That Way,” “I Kissed A Girl” and a lengthy list of other chart toppers. As music director, Fallacaro worked with Music Supervisor Bill Sherman to adapt some of Martin’s songs for the stage, staying true to the spirit of the songs while ensuring they fit the storyline well.
“Max’s music is so beloved and it’s so timeless and one of the hallmarks of his sound is just the clarity and how pristine through the decades it all is. You want to do that justice in a theater setting too and so that’s part of the job,” Fallacaro said.
“Music director of a show . . . is just a very Swiss army knife kind of job. And I love it for that because I love that one day I’m in the studio, one day I’m in the rehearsal studios, one day I’m in the theater. It’s a very challenging, in the best way, job.”
Perhaps an added challenge was that Fallacaro didn’t have an extensive musical theater background. The producer, composer and multi-instrumentalist has written for films and TV shows, and performed at various venues, including locally at Proctors.
“I really didn’t have a huge theater background before this came into my life besides Niskayuna High School productions. I didn’t have a Broadway background as a pit musician going into this,” Fallacaro said.
Creating and editing the show took several years.
“What was most interesting to me creatively, and what’s coolest is that when you start this process, the circle of people that you’re talking about this with is very small. It’s the director, the choreographers, the book writer and the music team. And then the show starts getting a little bigger. You talk about the set, you talk about the lights . . . and your circle gets a little bigger, and then you start [working in] a theater and they need costumes, and then that’s another person. So this circle that is your creative family expands and expands and what the job is expands.”
After the production went through several workshops stateside, Fallacaro and the team headed to the United Kingdom for additional workshops and rehearsals in 2019. They also recorded the cast album at Angel Studios and Abbey Road Studios.
Beyond the beloved songs many may be familiar with, the album includes “One More Try,” a track written specifically for the show. The album features pop star Jessie J performing her version of the track, with Fallacaro on the piano.
“It’s been a long journey but it’s led to some really amazing things too, not only just making the show, but making a cast record. [Doing the] cast recording with Max was one of the great highlights of my professional life, and getting to be in the studio with him and learn from the master like that is one of the most amazing musical things ever. It also allowed me to record and . . . play piano at Abbey Road, which was a bucket list thing to tick off,” Fallacaro said.
The show opened in London on the West End in November of 2019. Reviews of the show were generally positive.
“Silly and serious, ‘& Juliet’ wants to have its cake and to eat it too,” one Variety reviewer wrote. “Yet for all its many flaws, it’s hard not to cave in to its determination to add some thought to its undeniably feel-good factor.”
It was nominated for several Laurence Olivier Awards, including for Best Original Score or New Orchestrations, which was thanks to the work done by Sherman and Fallacaro. The show scored three performance wins in the awards too.
“[It] was a beautiful, and also sort of a tough time to open a show where we had just enough time to really start building some fans and getting a little bit of momentum. And then the world shut down,” Fallacaro said.
The pandemic paused the show’s run for more than a year. However, when it returned in 2021, enthusiasm for the show remained high. When Fallacaro returned to London and finally had a chance to see a showing, he was surprised to see audience members cosplaying as characters from the show and wearing homemade “& Juliet” merchandise.
“. . . to see that it had left such an impression on folks, it was just a very beautiful experience,” Fallacaro said.
The music also tends to appeal to a pretty wide range of audience members, from Fallacaro’s experience.
“[Max has] had his finger on the pulse for so long that there’s a generation of people that connect more deeply to the Britney and boyband era and then a generation of folks that that doesn’t quite hit as hard but Ariana and The Weekend are very much in their purview, and that stuff resonates,” Fallacaro said.
Earlier this summer, he helped to set the show up for its run in Toronto. Its next stop this fall is closer to home, with previews slated to start at Broadway’s Stephen Sondheim Theatre in October.
“I’m also very selfishly excited for most of my [family and friends] to finally see this thing that I’ve been so hard at work on for such a long time and share it with so many people,” Fallacaro said.
There are plans already to bring “& Juliet” to Australia next year.
Fallacaro, who was recently inducted into Niskayuna High School’s Hall of Fame, said working on the show has been one of the most gratifying creative endeavors he’s been a part of.
“Coming from a life where you’re hustling for each person in the crowd . . . in the early part of your career, you’re really being scrappy to get everyone that you possibly can,” Fallacaro said. “And then to sit in a theater where I didn’t invite these folks, it is just one of the most amazing feelings I’ve ever had.”
When it finally arrives on Broadway, Fallacaro noted “I just want people to come and see it and have an amazing two and a half hours in that chair and just leave feeling charged up.”
For more on the show visit andjulietbroadway.com.