is no stranger to being on the stage or behind it for that fact. Patch first met Masotta last year when she was filming a documentary behind the scenes of the spring musical . Despite the gargantuan task of filming the cast and crew at just the right moments, Masotta was also a featured ensemble member.
Since starting with Branford High School Performing Arts in 2009, she has been an ensemble member of Pirates of Penzace, On The Town, Dea by Dea, and Phantom of the Opera.
As one of seven players in the all-senior lead cast of this year's spring musical , Masotta takes the stage March 21 portraying Nehebka, a captured slave who is best friends with . We ask her about the role, what have been defining moments for her over the years and what lies ahead.
Branford Patch: Congratulations on your hard work through the years on the BHS stage. Do you have plans to continue performance after graduation?
Therese Masotta: Thank you! I plan on taking any opportunity to perform in the future. I hear UCONN has a fantastic theatre program and I plan to participate in it even though I'm majoring in psychology. I absolutely love performing and want to do it for as long as I can.
Branford Patch: How are you dealing with the fact that Aida will be your last time on the BHS stage?
Therese Masotta: I'm just rolling with it. It hasn't hit me that this is our last time no matter how much we acknowledge it. I think the best way to handle this last experience is to pretend like its not the last time. That way I enjoy everything is to its fullest and have plenty of memories!
Branford Patch: If you had to offer one small piece of advice to aspiring young actors hoping to head to the stage what would it be?
Therese Masotta: Just go for it. Don't think about all the factors that go into it. Don't think about being judged. Just listen to your director and, most importantly, listen to your heart. All the good things will come to you if you start small and work your way up. I hope that anyone who gets into the program is honored simply to be in it, because it's not about fame here at BHS – it’s about simply performing. Everyone appreciates you for getting up there and getting into it.
Branford Patch: Can you pick one defining moment of your BHS stage career and tell readers a little about it?
Therese Masotta: My defining moments are those that happen right before I get onstage for either the first number of the show or, specifically last year, before a particular number. There's something I love about the feeling you get right before you leap onto the stage when you're waiting in the wing next to the door or behind the curtain - your heart's pounding to the beat of the music and the world just stops for a second. Your whole existence has been invested into this production and now you're going to do it. The past months have all lead up to the here and now, and you can hardly believe it. But that's it, you're going to do it, and you know your life will be forever different after you go on. And then you're on stage, and before you know it, the show's over.
Branford Patch: You’re gearing up to play Nehebka, a slave who knows Aida. Can you tell readers more about your character?
Therese Masotta: Nehebka is Aida's best friend. She gets caught with Aida on the shores of the Nile and is taken into Egypt with her as a slave. Nehebka is the optimistic one at the slave camps and, with Mereb, helps to convince Aida to rise up and lead all the Nubian salves. Eventually, she gives herself to the guards to save Aida's life. This part isn't huge, but its difficult to play because that's not who I am. I'm good at leading, but I'd be too afraid to sacrifice myself for something I believe in. That, and I've never been in the situation that the Nubian slaves are in. But our director, Ms. Cartisano, has been really great with helping us develop our characters. She told us about the history of Egypt and Nubia. After sitting down with her, I now have the ability to get into my part and make myself believe I am Nehebka. There are even a few parts in the show, which I know will reduce me to tears upon performing them for the public. Nehebka has taught me a lot and I've honestly changed my personality because of her! She's made me a stronger person.
Branford Patch: Last year we profiled your work as the cameraman behind the scenes for Phantom of the Opera; how does it feel to be onstage this season instead?
Therese Masotta: Well, I was actually on stage last year, and for the past three years, despite my film work. Actually, I'm doing another documentary this year! Now that I've had a whole year of experience, it will come out a lot better. I've learned how to get new and interesting shots and learned new techniques in editing. I am, as always, extremely excited to perform!
Branford Patch: What has been the hardest obstacle to surmount while performing?
Therese Masotta: Um... I'm not sure. This year it was connecting with the feelings that a slave would feel. We had a sort of Tribal Dancing 101 with Ms R. At first the moves we were doing seemed silly. But then when we put it to music and had to make it look realistic, it dawned on us that we'd have to portray grief and longing with our bodies, and to do that we needed to find something inside us. R [Cathyann Roding, Music Director] said that we could do what ever move we'd like, but we'd have to have a reason for doing so. It took a lot of practice to do the moves without feeling silly.
Branford Patch: In a few words, why should people come out to this show?
Therese Masotta: For the music and the story. No matter who you are, you will be able to connect with the story line. There will be some part of the show that will make you rethink a personal experience of yours. I guarantee it. And the music is amazing! It’s modern and fun! You'll want to download the soundtrack when you get home. Not to mention the other leads have amazing voices – you probably will be shocked that we're high schoolers.
Check back tomorrow to meet Sam Bibbins.