Standing By: Interview with 1776 actor Sara Gallo

Sara Gallo juggles many roles in her life onstage and off. The actor, teacher, and mentor is a standby for four roles in the touring production of 1776. Gallo talks about how she balances it all, and how the arts in Philadelphia impacted her journey. 

Debra Danese: How does it feel to be making your national tour debut?

Sara Gallo: It definitely feels surreal. I’ve been dreaming about touring and taking this step in my career since I was in high school. To be actually doing it? Wild! Trying my best to stay present and make the most of this moment! 

DD: What does your role as a standby entail?

SG: As a standby, I do exactly what it says… stand by backstage! I cover four roles in 1776 – Wilson, Bartlett, Sherman, and Read. If at any moment, before or during a show, an actor goes down and one of those roles needs to be filled, I jump in! I do not perform in every show but I could go on at a moment’s notice for one of those four parts! 

DD: With ties to our area, who are most looking forward to seeing you perform at the Forrest Theater?

SG: Oh, so many people! Performing at the Forrest is a big check off my bucket list. I know my family is excited to see me perform on a touring stage in Philly! I also know friends and teachers will be there to support, which is always a blast. Something I am very excited about is that my high school alma mater, Hatboro Horsham High School, is bringing their theatre club to a performance, which is very full circle for me! 

DD: What do you love most about the arts in Philadelphia?

SG: I fell in love with theatre here. I would say that what I love most is the richness and accessibility of the arts in Philadelphia. Growing up and being exposed to not only the amazing arts community here, but so much diversity of art, both in theatre and beyond, is something I cherish. I love the variety of things you can see, do, and be a part of. I remember standing in the rush line at The Academy with my mom for partial view seats for so many touring productions, going to the PA Ballet and the Kimmel Center, seeing my teachers perform at the Wilma, and watching the touring company of A Chorus Line at the Forrest as a kid and being inconsolable after. I could go on and on about all the amazing things in this city that have impacted me and my journey but I will finish with this- Philadelphia’s arts community is one that cannot be beat! 

DD: As a teacher, how do you balance that job with your work as an actor?

SG: Teaching has become one of my greatest joys outside of performance. It is my “survival job” when I am not performing in a show. Learning how to balance auditioning and teaching is something I am still trying to figure out. When performing, I love doing master classes but do step back a bit in my private teaching. With the wonder of Zoom, I am able to connect with students for private lessons, chats, or really anything they need during the day before show time. A few of my students have become my “mentees” of sorts, having graduated high school and continuing their journey into the performing arts field. That to me isn’t a job at all; it is a gift! To share my experiences, and give them tools to help in their specific journey, has become a wonderful addition to my life as a teacher and performer. Teaching makes me a better performer and person.

[National Tour presented in Philadelphia by Kimmel Cultural Center at Forrest Theatre, 1114 Walnut Street] February 14-26, 2023;

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