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The CavChron

The student news site of Hollis Brookline High School

The CavChron

The student news site of Hollis Brookline High School

The CavChron

A Love for the Stage Changes Future Career Plans

Dylan Silcox
Emma DiGennaro stands facing out to the crowd in Hollis Brookline High School’s production of The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical. Here, on stage, DiGennaro has found a fulfilling passion for performing. This passion has caused her to change her original career plans.

Emma DiGennaro was seven years old when she auditioned for her first show. With an extroverted personality and big dreams, she aimed to be a star in the production A Year With Frog and Toad at Peacock Players, in Nashua, New Hampshire. After putting everything into the audition, her heart was shattered when she was cut.

Younger DiGennaro excitingly poses as a Who for Seussical the Musical (Courtesy DiGennaro).

DiGennaro’s interest in theater was planted long before her first audition. With a mom as a director and a dad as a music teacher, DiGennaro’s household was always surrounded by the world of drama. “I kind of grew up on musical theater,” she explained.

Soon, Broadway songs took over her music taste, and acting took over her life. “Then I started exploring it more on my own and was definitely drawn in,” DiGennaro said.

 Now, eight years later, DiGennaro has been in 30 different productions and has been the lead star in seven. At Hollis Brookline High School, she has performed in three. Theater has been so prominent in her life recently, that there have only been two weeks this year where she has not had rehearsals.

Through these performances, DiGennaro has built strong relationships with her fellow cast. This has served as a primary form of happiness for her. “I love all of the connections that I’m able to make through theater,” she explained.

Specifically, in Hollis Brookline High School’s production of The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical, DiGennaro played Annabeth. Fellow cast members, Oli Toner and Riley Scanlon, played Percy Jackson and Grover respectively.

DiGennaro (Right) and fellow cast members, Oli Toner and Riley Scanlon, pose together as a close-knit trio of leads in The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical.

Together, they served as the Annabeth, Percy and Grover best friend trio. “In that time, I grew very close with the other two people,” DiGennaro said.

One explanation for this could be the technical advantages of multiple leads working together so closely. “When there is a trio of leads, you have two other people who are in the same scenes and songs, and it’s easy to get together in one place,” Toner explained.

Another reason could be the inherent friendship that forms among cast members. “You automatically have two friends,” Toner said.

In this case, multi-hour rehearsals meant significant time would be spent preparing. Still, Toner explained how the trio bonded by finding time to relax by getting food together before rehearsals began each day.

One moment DiGennaro remembers encapsulating this friendship was with their first bow together after opening night. After countless hours of hard work in rehearsals, they had been through it all. “That whole performance experience was so stressful, but that first bow that all three of us took together after going through so much with that show was so memorable,” DiGennaro said. “It was a very happy moment that I look back on,” she continued.

More recently, DiGennaro played Joly in Les Misérables, Mary Flynn in Merrily We Roll Along and Jordan Baker in The Great Gatsby.

In all of these performances, she cites three primary emotions she experiences: fulfillment, excitement and contentment. These adjectives capture what theater means to her and why she continues to engage in it. Still, DiGennaro didn’t always see a future involving theater. 

After watching Grey’s Anatomy in eighth grade, she quickly fell in love with the hands-on depiction of being a doctor. “I was like ‘Okay wait, what if I actually was a surgeon,’’’ she said.

After deciding on her future career, DiGennaro began to turn it from a dream into a possibility. Focusing on biology, she started to take it more seriously in classes and with research. She planned on taking AP Biology, an advanced college-level course, this academic year. That was until it conflicted with another passion of hers.

When Honors Choir and AP Biology overlapped in schedule, she was forced to choose between her new interest in biology and her long-standing love for singing. She decided to enroll in Honors Choir rather than AP Biology. 

After reflecting on this choice, DiGennaro immediately realized her future career plan required a change. “I’m just not really interested in [medicine],” she said. 

She noticed that her primary motivators were extrinsic rather than intrinsic. “I was interested in it for the money and the stability,” she explained.

More importantly, she recognized her love for musical theater and the importance of enjoying what you do. “I realized that I can’t picture myself doing anything but theater for the rest of my life and I don’t think I would be very happy in the field of medicine,” said DiGennaro.

DiGennaro (Right) excitedly laughs as her fellow cast cheer her on. On stage, her happiness and excitement for theater can be seen.

Still, she has some mingling fears about what her future now looks like. “Every once in a while, I have my doubts,” she said.

For her, this fear is related to the fact that theater can be a challenging profession that sometimes has limited job prospects. “Everybody is going to be engineers and scientists and ‘Oh by the way I’m going to do theater for a professional living,”’ said DiGennaro.

To somewhat lessen this anxiety, she intends to give herself multiple other options. “I plan on going to an academically rigorous college and I plan on minoring in either marketing or psychology to kind of have a fallback in case it doesn’t work out,” she explained.

Nevertheless, she continues to pursue her dreams and trust that she is talented enough to make them a reality. “I have doubts about whether or not I’m going to be able to succeed, but I try to quell those doubts because you’ve got to believe in yourself,” she said. “You’ve got to believe that you’ll make it,” she continued.

Today, when she imagines her future, it seems a little different than before. Previously, she highlighted security and education. “I used to envision a very stable future with a lot of schooling,” she said.

Now, she sees a future of joy. “I just picture myself being happy and I don’t know if I could have said the same when I still wanted to pursue medicine,” said DiGennaro.

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About the Contributor
Mason Marshall
Mason Marshall, Arts & Entertainment Editor
Mason Marshall ‘25 is a first-year journalism student and is ready to conquer the world of reporting all things news for CavChron!  He is interested in incorporating a wide range of opinions through interviewing lots of people in the HB community.  In 2024, Mason begins his new monthly column, HBHS Happiness Journal, in hopes of highlighting joy and positivity in the community. When he’s not being a STEM-wizz in the HBHS Science Olympiad and Math Teams, Mason loves to race down the slope on the HBHS Alpine Ski Team.  Anytime it snows, you are bound to catch him somewhere on the mountain chasing the powder.  Mason is also an avid lover of all things National Parks and outdoors, so sun or snow he will likely be on some form of trail.  He also loves supporting the local community through his involvement as the HBHS Red Cross Club Vice President.  Fun fact: Mason has donated his blood!    Awards: Best of SNO: Conan Gray Finds New Sound with ‘Found Heaven’

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    Melinda MarshallJun 2, 2024 at 12:23 pm

    Loved reading about Emma pursuing her passions!