A Star is Grown

Article Published: Nov. 10, 2011 | Modified: Nov. 10, 2011
A Star is Grown

ASU actress Ariel Nicastro on the set of ‘How I Learned to Drive.’

Photo by Frank Ruggiero

Longtime Boone residents can remember when actress Ariel Nicastro was a young girl, playing with her sister, Natalie, in their parents’ restaurant, Boone Bagelry.

Later she was a regular presence on stage with the Watauga High School’s drama group, the WHS Playmakers.

Now, she is a senior in Appalachian State University’s Department of Theatre and Dance, starring in the new play “How I Learned to Drive” at I.G. Greer Studio Theatre.

The Mountain Times caught up with Nicastro this week to find out how she delves into the emotional character of Li’l Bit and what she has planned for the future.

Mountain Times: What’s it like having the lead in this play?

Ariel Nicastro: Initially, I was shocked. I thought there was no way I was going to get this role. It’s a very intense character and a huge leap as a performer. I couldn’t believe that someone had given me the chance to play such an honorable part. Having this role, unlike any other I’ve had at ASU, is like giving an actress a giant opportunity to grow. It’s a very hard and confusing role, and I’ve enjoyed getting the chance to learn it. Mary Louise Parker, who initially played Li’l Bit on Broadway, is in no way comparable, but I hope to do her justice. She’s a great inspiration.

MT: How is theater different or the same from when you were with the WHS Playmakers?

AN: In high school, while I enjoyed theater, I was always focusing on other things. I was involved in everything, and I didn’t realize how much I loved acting. Now that I’ve been at ASU, I have been given bigger opportunities to grow and learn more about the craft, and I value it more. That being said, while I’ve had more opportunities here, I still owe a huge thank you to Sarah Miller, Greg Pope and Trimella Chaney for getting me involved to begin with. Mrs. Chaney cast me in my first real role as a freshman at WHS, and from then on, I was hooked.

MT: Do the characters in the play remind you of anyone from your life?

AN: It’s a little hard to identify with the characters in the show, but I’ve been able to substitute some real life situations and characteristics to help make me relate more to Li’l Bit. While her family is completely dysfunctional, mine is not. Because of that, I’ve had to do a lot of researching. I’ve talked to many people who I think have helped me connect with my character.

MT: What are your theater plans after you graduate from ASU?

AN: I spent last semester in New York City doing an internship for Channel One News and Emerging Pictures (a film company), and I plan to go right back to the city after graduation. I made some connections and hope to stay in touch with them as I figure out what I’m doing. While there, I auditioned for some shows and talent agencies and was involved in the Bound for Broadway Singers Showcase at the Duplex Theatre, as well as took classes from The Barrow Group and The Actor’s Project. I hope to continue with theater, but I really want to pursue film.

‘How I Learned to Drive’

The ASU Department of Theatre and Dance presents Paula Vogel’s Pulitzer Prize-winning drama, “How I Learned to Drive,” in the intimate I.G. Greer Studio Theatre on campus.

The play runs Nov. 10 to 12 at 7:30 p.m., with a matinee Nov. 13 at 2 p.m., and a final performance Nov. 13 at 7:30 p.m. Ticket prices start at $6 for ASU students. For more information, visit http://www.theatre.appstate.edu or call the box office at (828) 262-3063.

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