Melbourne-born triple threat performer Adriana Pannuzzo, 22, has landed a lead role in a touring production of Angelina Ballerina, The Musical. Opening at the Soho Playhouse in New York, the show is also touring North Carolina, South Carolina, Ohio, Louisiana, Kentucky. Dance Writer caught up with Adriana about her new adventure.
You have lived in New York for a few years while completing your musical theatre studies. Describe your transition from student to life as a professional performer?
After completing my studies, I have worked extremely hard to get in front of as many industry people as possible. I was, and still am, eager to get out into the field and make sure people remember my name.
Getting audition rejections is always hard, especially when you are transitioning from the positive school environment provided at The American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA).
Luckily, school prepared us well for this process. To remain determined and motivated, I found it useful to create a schedule of my dance classes, voice lessons and meetings with new industry people.
I want to build my networks and keep growing as the student-cycle will never end. Learning does not have a deadline.
Congratulations on landing a lead role with Angelina Ballerina, The Musical. How did you land this gig? How did you feel when you heard the news of your success?
After attending numerous auditions for other roles, I was extremely happy and a little taken aback when the casting director told me that I booked this role. It did not feel real as I had given my all at least 180 auditions in the last three months.
Since then, I’ve had a little feeling inside of me that questioned whether I can do this. But I pushed through the self-doubt and it has now led me here.
I did not actually audition for this role, but going to so many auditions, being present and showing my face meant this casting director knew and remembered me. Plus, I was fortunate enough to be in multiple auditions with the lovely lady who recommended me. It’s an invaluable lesson to always be respectful and kind to everyone – because anyone may be a referral point in the creative team.
Growing up reading the Angelina Ballerina books, you said you wanted to be like her. How did this connection inspire you? How did you love of dance turn, first, into your passion and then into your career?
The Angelina Ballerina books and TV series were great; so adorable and inspirational. She was a bigger mouse-ling who loved to take ballet classes for fun. She was not perfect and did not care what she looked like. I admired her and wanted to be just like her.
This inspired my love of dance, which led me taking class four times a week in multiple styles. My passion grew strongly as I matured, leading me to audition for Billy Elliot the Musical. I landed the role of Angela Robson and performed on-stage every week for nine months. It lit a fire in my heart to devote my craft to the audience every week and I knew I wanted to keep pursuing a career in musical theatre. Having this goal made me work incredibly hard, and I knew I needed to take the next step and move to New York. Training and performing in The Big Apple has always been a dream.
What have you found most challenging in your performing arts journey, particularly since living overseas? How have you overcome it? How did you keep on going?
New York City never sleeps, and neither do I. I love New York and definitely miss my family, but I have created a family here who inspires me to be happy.
Overcoming an ACL tear two years ago required me to go home to Australia for surgery. I went through 15 months of recovery, which definitely tested my love for New York and my career. I do not regret having that injury as it taught me so many lessons and made me feel confident and resolute about my choice of career.
As an Australian girl, how hard is it to be a professional performer in the US? What should the Australian dance industry learn from the States?
Being an international performer in the United States is quite challenging, especially with regard to visas and employment. Finding people who have gone through it and getting their advice really helps.
What I really love about the US industry is that they are constantly trying to find change and develop new ideas to bring forward in the theatre business. I love how many events and shows are constantly happening and I’m always finding out about new auditions from so many different places.
Describe your experience with The American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA). Was it a dream turning into reality?
As an 18 year-old, I went to AMDA with my eyes wide open and eager to learn. My teachers were Broadway choreographers and performers. We learned from magnificent teachers who taught the core of Musical Theatre training.
Life consisted of incredibly early mornings and lots of late nights. I took extra-curricular dance workshop classes every week to gain more knowledge. Unfortunately, I tore my ACL when I was auditioning for a show at my school, which resulted in taking 15 months off.
While this gave me valuable time to keep working in Australia, I didn’t want to lose sight of my goals and I managed to get back to New York to complete my last year of school. It took me two-and-a-half years, but it was well worth the wait.
Completing my studies was a dream come true and living in the heart of the Big Apple was amazing. Walking past the Lincoln Centre every day gave me chills I will never forget.
Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
I would love to be performing on Broadway with a musical theatre show. It would also be wonderful to be featured in a film. I know I will still be working my hardest in this career.