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Bishop Gorman grad grabs lead in Off-Broadway play

Tara Carbone, a 2008 graduate of Bishop Gorman High School, 5959 S. Hualapai Way, used her triple-threat talents to wow a casting director, so much so that she got the lead in an Off-Broadway musical without even auditioning for it.

Carbone, 22, grew up in Las Vegas. As a child she was involved in competitive dance, which led to cheerleading. In high school she was involved with theater. She loved it so much, she went to Syracuse University in New York, where alumni include singer/actress Vanessa Williams and actor Frank Langella. Carbone graduated this year with a degree in musical theater.

Now she’s playing the lead in an Off-Broadway play, "Angelina Ballerina: The Very Merry Holiday Musical."

The show is at the Vital Theatre in New York City. It opened Nov. 17 and runs through Jan. 13.

"She got big real quick," said her father, Frank.

While in college, Tara Carbone made her regional debut in "The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe" and also performed in "Lysistrata" and "The Jungle Book." She said her getting the lead in "Angelina Ballerina" was "serendipitous."

"I was very lucky," she said. "Basically I had met the casting director and auditioned for her before (for a different show), and she emailed me and asked me to audition for this, but unfortunately I was out of town; I was in Vegas at the time. So I email her back and said, ‘Is there any way I can audition another day or send you a video or something?’, and she said, ‘Yes, send me a video because I think you’re perfect for this.’ "

Carbone enlisted the help her best friend and brother to make a video in Las Vegas.

"I called my brother; he has some musician friends," she said. "We got together and we made it happen. We filmed it in, like, 10 minutes. And I kind of made it a creative project of mine. I threw everything I wanted into it. I sent it in thinking, ‘Oh well, I’m probably not going to get this because they didn’t meet me in person. And there are other actresses who can do this part.’ A month later, I get a call offering me the part, the lead. I was floored. It was completely out of the blue."

The casting director for "Angelina Ballerina" was Holly Buczek.

"She really went to bat for me," Carbone said of Buczek. "I guess she really enjoyed my video."

Carbone said the theater department at Bishop Gorman was really good, especially for those who were new to acting. She said that although she had come to theater late, she had the background of being a dancer to help her.

One of her first roles there was as the title character in "The Mystery of Edwin Drood," an experience that cemented her career choice.

"It was the first time in my life where I really felt like something had challenged me, and I had just totally been able to put all of who I am and all of where I come from into something," Carbone said. "It was very important to me. … I’d never (performed) in the theater or singing or anything until I went to school, so it was quite a journey. And I really just fell in love with it. I decided in my junior year that that’s what I wanted to do."

Elena Ferrante-Martin is the department chairwoman of performing arts at Bishop Gorman. She said Carbone shined the moment she entered the program, so much so that Ferrante-Martin became her mentor. She described Carbone as being dedicated, focused and hard working.

"Tara always had a spark about her. … Our motto here is ‘Striving for Excellence for the Performing Arts,’ and she is definitely one of the poster children for that," Ferrante-Martin said. "She’s tireless and a great girl with a great spirit."

Carbone graduated from Syracuse University this fall and got the part soon after.

Did anyone tell her that this type of thing normally doesn’t happen to person right of college?

"I’m just in shock by it all," she said. "I just feel like I’m going to wake up and learn it’s not real. It’s just crazy. It’s so exciting."

Carbone said this play is a step on the way to her goal of starring on Broadway, but she is open to other roles, especially ones that challenge her. She wants to do films, as well, she said, and has taken some film classes in New York City, where she got some good feedback.

"I don’t like to limit myself," she said. "I think I’m just going to keep training and learning and working hard and see where my opportunities allow me to go. But ideally, I would be honored to be on Broadway. I would love to play, like, Glenda in ‘Wicked.’ "

Contact Summerlin/Summerlin South View reporter Jan Hogan at jhogan@viewnews.com or 702-387-2949.

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