Meet Broadway's newest leading lady, Gabriella Pizzolo! On October 6th, Gabriella will take over the role of Small Alison in The Tony Award®-winning Best Musical, Fun Home. We caught up with the 12-year-old Broadway vet to discuss her excitement taking over the role, her experience in Broadway's Matilda, and so much more!
Gabriella Pizzolo: I was 7 years old when I was cast in my first community theater production. It was a student edition of Les Miserables, and I played the part of Young Cosette. I loved every minute of it, and wanted to keep doing more shows.
TKHT: Who is your biggest role model in theater? Why?
Gabriella: Everyone that I have worked with on Broadway has inspired me and taught me about theater and myself. I think it is great to keep an open mind. I try to ask myself, “What can I learn from this situation or person?” I worked with an amazing lady named Deborah Abramson, who taught me how to get over feelings of self-doubt. She told me to just do my best and know that my best is truly good enough.
Gabriella: My favorite show changes all the time. I love shows the most for different reasons. I love Fun Home because it is a show that is a true story, and it is helping people feel safe to be who they want to be. I also love that it was created by a group of talented women that I know and love. I love Matilda because the music is interesting and smart just like the character, Matilda. I saw Hamilton recently and loved it like everyone else. I would love it even more if there was a female president represented...maybe Betsy Struxness? (Matilda, Hamilton)
TKHT: When not performing, how do you like to spend your time?
Gabriella: I love to paint, dance, and write poems, stories, and songs.
Gabriella: I learned a lot from being an understudy for three different roles. I felt challenged by the task and really grew in ways that I did not expect. I had a lot of extra time backstage during shows to read, draw, do homework and binge watch “Doogie Howser MD.” Some of the difficult parts about understudying these three roles is that I really wanted to get a chance to get on stage and act, but that didn’t happen very often. Sometimes it can feel lonely being left out because I was not regularly onstage. In the end, that didn’t really matter to me very much because I was doing what I loved.
TKHT: How did you feel when you found out that you would be taking over the role of Small Alison?
Gabriella: When I found out, I felt extremely happy. I love Alison Bechdel and consider it an honor to help tell her story. I was proud of myself.
Gabriella: Matilda was a dream come true for me. It was the first show that I auditioned for on Broadway, and it took a lot of auditions and callbacks to get the part. Playing Matilda helped me learn to be brave myself. The people that I met while doing that show are like family to me. I will always be grateful for that experience!
TKHT: How are Small Alison and Matilda similar? What is your favorite thing about each character?
Gabriella: My favorite thing about Small Alison is that she is a real kid. She does a lot of the same things with her siblings that I do with my sister. We make up funny commercials and dance around like maniacs. I like Matilda because she is determined to change her life for the better. When she feels strongly about something, she holds her ground. I think these characters are alike because they are both little girls who want to have a happy life.
TKHT: What is your dream role?
Gabriella: I don’t really have a dream role. I think each role is challenging. I would like to originate a role someday. That would probably be my dream!
TKHT: What advice do you have for kids who would like to be on Broadway one day?
Gabriella: Keep learning and growing as an actor and person. Get involved in theater where you can and never give up. Make sure that you are doing it because you love acting, singing and dancing. In the end, that is truly what will keep you going when things don’t go as expected.