Bobcat in the spotlight

Bobcat+in+the+spotlight

Nicole Kessler

[media-credit name=”Photo courtesy of ChristinaComizio.com” align=”alignright” width=”200″][/media-credit]The lights radiate throughout the theater and the music slowly changes pace as she graciously walks center stage, gearing up to take her final bow of the night. The audience gives a thunderous roar, showering the actress with love.

For Christina Comizio, this was her final theatrical performance of her collegiate career.

“I’ll always cherish my final bow for ‘The Wild Party,’” she said. “It was such a grueling rehearsal process and Queenie was a difficult role to play, but she was very special to me. My whole career kind of just closed on that moment.”

Comizio’s career, however, is far from over. Just one day after graduating from Quinnipiac University on May 20 with a BA in Theater, the 21-year-old actress landed a coveted role with the George Street Playhouse Educational Touring Company in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

“I hadn’t been out of school for a full 24 hours before I got the part. [I was] dumbfounded. I was speechless. I couldn’t even wrap my mind around that I was speaking to the director in the first place when I got the callback,” Comizio said. “It was my first professional audition that I went to on a whim like (with) 72 hours notice and I got out of the audition and I felt really confident.”

Out of 300 applicants, the director auditioned 75 to 80 individuals. In the end, four actors were chosen to complete the touring company. Comizio’s raw talent and effervescent approach won over Jim Jack, the director of education and outreach at the George Street Playhouse.

“She’s a special performer,” he said. “She has a really big, beautiful voice and I think the other thing I really appreciate about her is she’s fearless. She leaves it on the stage, she’s a full and expressive performer so that you don’t have to reach to her to get it. She very much fills the room and there’s also a sweetness to her nature and a warmth to her sensibility as a person.”

For the past 30 years, The George Street Playhouse Educational Touring Company has been the heart of the educational department at the playhouse. The fully professional, nationally-recognized Regional Theater brings issue-based work into schools, colleges and community groups within the tri-state area. Performances address topics such as conflict resolution, health and wellness, bullying and character education.

“I’m really excited,” Comizio said. “This is a totally new journey for me. It’s definitely an incredible thing that they are doing.”

The performances will start at the end of September and will finish in April. Her company will have 150 performances reaching upwards of 35 thousand audience members. On Aug. 28, Comizio is off to New Jersey to train and rehearse with her new company for their shows, “Austin the Unstoppable” and “New Kid.”

“Austin the Unstoppable” is a musical comedy about a mother diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and whose son is on the road to becoming obese. “New Kid” addresses  hot topics such as racism, peer pressure and issues surrounding immigration.

Comizio’s latest success, however, hasn’t been without fears. She rejected her grad school offers two days before she found the job listing on Playbill.com.

“The reason I wanted to go to grad school in the first place was so I could get my MFA and become a college professor one day,” she said. “So the fact that this job embodied performing and then working with students afterwards was very important to me. Teaching and theater are two really big things that I want to be able to accomplish in my life.”

Comizio was originally an accounting major when she entered college in 2013.

“I was miserable.” she said. “I’ve wanted to do theater for my whole entire life… I called my dad with a mental breakdown hysterically crying and I was like I can’t do this… So the next day I went to Kevin Daly’s office and I said ‘Let’s change my major.’”

For anyone who meets Comizio, even if just for a moment, it’s obvious that her full of life personality did not suit crunching numbers. She’s vivacious and unapologetically-passionate about acting, singing, and teaching. It makes sense, since she grew up singing with her mom around the house and was exposed to the arts at a young age thanks to her parents.

“I was singing around the house at 2 years old. My favorite song was Dancing Queen by ABBA. For my fifth birthday, we went and saw Beauty and the Beast on Broadway,” she said. “Pretty much every year after that my dad always made it a thing to take me to see shows.”

Although Comizio’s current acting role models are Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep, back when she was a child, Britney Spears was her biggest inspiration.

“Acting and singing has been the goal since I was five years old,” she said. “In Kindergarten you had to do a ‘what I want to be when I grow up’ project and I said I wanted to act and sing. People don’t believe [me] when I say this, but my role model is Britney Spears. I saw her music video for “Lucky” when it premiered on VH1 and I remember just being in awe of her and I was like ‘that’s what I want to do.’”

So, at 8 years old, Comizio auditioned with her sister and mother and was casted in her first community theater production, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” in Vernon, New Jersey. From there, Comizio performed in a few more shows and picked up the craft again in high school.

“I enrolled in the acting classes and signed up for the audition the spring of my freshman year,” she said. “After that I pretty much was in every high school theater show and was cast as the lead.”

In total, she was in eight shows at Vernon Township High School, including being cast as Eponine in “Les Miserables” and Belle in “Beauty and the Beast.”

At Quinnipiac, she was in eight main stage shows, including “Nine” and “The Clean House.” That isn’t even including her three Off-Broadway credits she earned with The New Play Festival at the Abingdon Theater Company in New York City.

“Her first role in ‘Dracula’ was the first time we really got to know her as an actor,” Kevin Daly, director of theater and assistant teaching professor at Quinnipiac University, said. “After that we all knew she had talent. Christina is one of the best actors we’ve had come through our program; she’s hard working, talented, and has an intrinsic motor for improvement.”

Jack said that working at the playhouse is not an easy job- that it’s like the “peace corps for theater.” While this sounds daunting, there’s no need to worry about Comizio’s ability to keep up. She’s used to a hectic schedule.

Along with keeping up with her studies, social life and play rehearsals, Comizio was also the President of the Fourth Wall Theater, a dean’s list student, a member of Alpha Psi Omega Honor Society, an intern at Broadway Students Live/ Passport to Broadway and she was a guest teacher for Mariah Sage’s acting class.

“She spent countless hours working with our acting professors in the classroom, at rehearsal, and in individual coaching sessions. The coaching sessions were voluntary and they make a huge difference,” Daly said. “I see many talented students come through our program (both as majors and non-majors). The difference between them is work ethic, and Christina’s was equal to the best.”

This born performer is ready. For most her young life, this is what she has trained for.

“What keeps me doing theater is the fact that I’m keeping a story alive and communicating with people right there,” she said. “So if there is one little girl or little boy that goes, ‘That’s what I want to do with my life.’ That’s what it’s really about for me, always inspiring people to follow their dreams and not be afraid to do them because they may be impractical.”

Comizio is grateful for such an opportunity and is more than happy that some of her original plans did not work out.

“For the first time I felt okay… you weren’t meant to go to grad school,” she said. “This is what you are supposed to be doing, this is right.  So don’t ever regret the fact that you were a theater major or the fact you didn’t go to grad school. You’re now making a career for yourself.”