Bookstore associate stars in new musical ‘Pope Joan’

By Michelle Nosratian

Upper school bookstore associate Allie Costa is starring as Joan in the new musical “Pope Joan,” which tells the story of a woman’s tumultuous rise to power during the Middle Ages.

Written and composed by Christopher Moore, the play is set in medieval France and Rome. It opened Jan. 16 and runs through March 22 at the Stella Adler Theatre in Hollywood with showings Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m.

The heroine, Joan, feels compelled to work with the church and help the poor. However, in order to pursue her work, Joan must maintain her guise as a man, as women are not permitted to hold the same offices or receive the same level of education as men.

King Louis II of France is in a relationship with Joan but keeps her identity under wraps. She ascends through church ranks and is elected Pope.

Costa plays the younger version of Joan.

“As Young Joan, I have to be very simple and still, which is quite different from my normal high-energy self,” Costa said. “I also get to do some pretty awesome stunts in the show.When the townspeople turn on her – well, you’ll just have to come see the show to find out what happens.”

Pope Joan has a cast of 26 people.

“The ensemble is amazing,” Costa said. “With so many different, talented people, each person brings something special to the mix.”

Costa auditioned for the part in September the morning after the closing performance of another play she was in. She knew very little about Joan’s story when she showed up to the casting.

“Since it was a new musical, I had no idea if the music would be contemporary or classical or rock or whatnot, so I sang my heart out and hoped for the best,” Costa said. “The music and the dialogue turned out to be like the time period, more like ‘Les Misérables’ than, say, ‘Spring Awakening,’ and treated very seriously.”

She has performed in stage productions such as “Spring Awakening,” “Anything Goes,” “West Side Story,” “The Mikado” and others.

Costa was recently cast in another new musical, “Gothmas,” which she auditioned for a few hours before a “Pope Joan” matinee performance.