Andrea Dotto was recently nominated for a 2017 Chita Rivera Award in the “Outstanding Female Dancer in a Broadway Production” for her work in the musical “Bandstand.”
By Hayleigh Gowans
Manlius native Andrea Dotto has had a successful career in the performing arts, and recently, she was nominated for a 2017 Chita Rivera Award in the “Outstanding Female Dancer in a Broadway Production” for her work in the musical “Bandstand.”
Dotto grew up in the area and graduated from Fayetteville-Manlius High School in 2007. From an early age, she was interested in dancing, signing and performing and acted in the Town of Manlius Summer Musicals. She went on the receive her Bachelors of Fine Arts in Musical Theater at Montclair State University in New Jersey.
Since then, she has received numerous acting credits and three years ago, she got involved with the Broadway musical “Bandstand” where she is a member of the ensemble. “Bandstand is set in 1945 and tells the story of Private First Class Donny Novitski, a singer and songwriter, who returns from the war to rebuild his life. When NBC announces a national competition to find the nation’s next great musical superstars, Novitski joins forces with other veterans to form a band to compete.
The Eagle Bulletin got a chance to ask Dotto a few question in between her busy time practicing and performing on the Broadway stage. Here are her responses:
How did you get into the performing arts?
I started dancing when I was just shy of 3-years-old. I have two older sisters who danced, so it was basically decided for me that I would dance too. My mom played piano at church so I was in the church choir as soon as I could sing “Still, Still, Still.” Once I was old enough to be in the Town of Manlius Summer Musical, I was there. Next came, Bristol Hills Music Camp. I was hooked!
What do your talents include?
My talents? Aren’t we supposed to be humble actors? Okay, here it goes: I am a singer, dancer and actor. In the business, those of that breed are called Triple Threats. Though with “Bandstand”, most of the cast are quadruple threats as they play their own instruments too. I played violin since the fourth grade, so that has found its way into my career as well.
Then there are the talents I had to pick up along the way when the show called for it like rope tricks, ukulele, dog handling and swing dancing.
How did you get involved with “Bandstand” and how has the experience been?
I’ve been with the show for the past three years. We did a developmental lab at Lincoln Center to build the show from the ground up. Then we took it to Papermill Playhouse for our “out of town tryout.” I am a part of the Ensemble in the show. The dancers are kept super busy with Andy’s [Blankenbuehler] choreography. I have 14 costume changes throughout the show, changing from character to character! My feature comes at the end of the story, as a bubbly bobbysoxer named Betsy. I was so thankful she kept finding her way into the script!
What does a “day in the life” look for you now that you are performing on Broadway?
Well today, I took a yoga class and now I am sitting at a coffee shop out in Astoria, Queens where I live. This day is an exception to the rule though! Lately we have been very busy with press events, photoshoots and album recordings. It’s all been very thrilling! Where do we get the energy? Lots and lots of coffee.
What are some of your memorable past roles?
Last year, I got to play a dream role of mine which was Kathy in Singin’ in the Rain. I grew up on MGM movies so playing a role originated by Debbie Reynolds was so much fun for me. I would rent so many old movies from the Manlius Library, I must have seemed like such an odd bird, but it all lead me here!
Another favorite movie rental turned memorable role was Charity in Sweet Charity. I got to play her in college and got to meet Chita Rivera during rehearsals. Chita called me “the chosen one,” talk about some good juju!
How does it feel to be nominated for Chita Rivera award for “Outstanding Female Dancer in a Broadway Production”?
Truthfully? I still can’t really wrap my head around it! It’s astounding! Being in Bandstand is an absolute dream come true and then to be recognized for my part in it feels unreal. We had a nominee reception a few weeks ago that I got to bring my parents to. Hearing Bebe Neuwirth say my name among a list of insanely talented dancers was just wild! Then to be able to experience that with the two people that got me to that point was a moment I’ll never forget.
What have you learned during your career in the performing arts?
That you aren’t in this alone. Whether its family, or a good group of friends, or just a very loyal barista at the neighborhood coffee shop, this business is too hard to go it alone. You often hear that showbiz is ruthlessly competitive, which it can be! But what I’ve learned at “Bandstand” is that success is totally attainable when we work as a team. Find good teachers, get into class, feel the community, the gypsyhood of it. You’re going to survive the beast of the business with grace and dignity if you do.
What would you say to someone who is looking go into a similar performing career as you?
Can you picture yourself doing anything else? No? Then hold onto that truth with all your might. Because New York is not for the weak of spirit. But If you know, deep down in your soul that you are meant to be an actor. Then you’ll be an actor! I always said to myself, “I’m going to be on Broadway. Whether I’m the young ingenue, or the kooky old lady, I’m going to make it there.”
What are your hopes for the future?
If I can be a working actor and build a life and a family doing what I love, I’ll be happy. I hope to never get jaded by the business and to always see the glory and power that is musical theater.
I am a reporter for the Eagle Bulletin and Cazenovia Republican at Eagle News. I report on topics ranging from town and village government, business, news and features.
I am a 2014 graduate of the Roy H. Park School of Communications and have a degree in Journalism and a minor in Psychology.