Recent Grad, Joseph Nicastro, Lands Role in N.Y. Musical

Joseph Nicastro '13. Photo credit: Eve Marie Webster.

Joseph Nicastro '13. Photo credit: Eve Marie Webster.


In September, only a week after moving to New York City, Joseph Nicastro ’13 was cast in the Tony Award-winning musical “Hello, Dolly!”

The historic production is on its 50th anniversary tour and stars two-time Emmy-Award winner Sally Struthers. From Oct. 5 to April 5 the tour travels nationwide and is scheduled for 73 performances.

“I’m still waiting for someone to pinch me and wake me up,” Nicastro said. 

Nicastro, a communications major, is part of the male dance ensemble and serves as understudy for the role of Ambrose Kemper. While on tour, he will also be completing a second degree in dance performance at RIC via independent study.

“I got the call from the company manager as I was walking home,” Nicastro said. “I was so frazzled after he offered me the contract that I walked into the wrong apartment building.”

Before enrolling at RIC, Nicastro had no dance experience. The performing arts didn’t really thrive in his family, he said. His father is a retired fire fighter, and his brother and sister served in the military.

In his first year at RIC, “just to do something fun on the side,” he decided to audition for the musical “Hair.” From there he enrolled in every dance course he could, and this side project quickly developed into a passion.

Working closely with Angelica Cardente-Vessella, artistic director of the RIC Dance Company and associate professor of dance, Nicastro began to perfect his already innate talent. “Vessella became an incredible mentor for me,” Nicastro said. “If it weren’t for her, I would not even be close to where I am right now.”

Nicastro also cites William Wilson, director of the RIC Performing and Fine Arts Commission and professor of theatre, as a major mentor and influence for him.  

During his time at RIC, Nicastro was often the leading player in the college’s musicals, including the highly praised production of “Pippin.” He was also recruited by two professional dance companies and awarded a scholarship to attend a summer intensive at one of the world’s most famous dance centers, The School at Jacob’s Pillow.

“Watching Joseph grow from an able, yet untrained, mover into a technical and versatile professional dancer and performer has been nothing short of wonderful,” Vessella said.

 “I’m proof that it’s never too late,” Nicastro said. “Most dancers start when they are still in diapers. I started in college, and I hope others will do the same. It’s possible to be successful.”

As Nicastro goes forward in his career, RIC will always be his starting point, he said. “I certainly would not have been a part of this tour had it not been for Rhode Island College. A combination of everything I’ve learned at RIC has helped.”