So many of us have at one time or another dreamed of making it on Broadway or film and television. For many of us this remains a dream. But not for Luisa Tascone. Tascone grabbed that dream, and did not let go, and is now living a life many of us still dream of.
Tascone grew up in Melbourne and gained her love of performance at a very young age, performing in school plays, singing in choirs and taking piano lessons. In High School she performed in several musicals including Annie and Chess, and then came her first lead at 17 playing Belle in M2 Theatre’s production of Beauty and the Beast which earned her first Commendation from the Music Theatre Guild of Victoria in 2007.
When at the age of 14 she knew that this was what she wanted to do with her life, her family, like most, suggested she consider a plan B. For Tascone, this was to be video editing which led her to complete a Bachelor of Film and Digital Media at Deakin University with a minor in drama. While completing her degree, the acting bug grew stronger for Tascone and she continued to perform on stage in many productions including UMMTA’s The Wedding Singer, Fab Nob’s Spring Awakening and OSMaD’s first two productions of Les Misérables and Jesus Christ Superstar, which put the production company on the map.
After graduating, Tascone continued to perform in stage productions including ARC Theatre’s The Breakfast Club and Waterdale’s The Witches of Eastwick. However, she still felt there was so much more to learn about acting, “You know, the thing you have to do between singing songs in a musical, I know a lot of people in our community can relate to that feeling!” Tascone also had an agent and was booking commercials and short films but knew she wanted bigger jobs and more demanding roles.
In 2014, while performing in Xanadu with Fab Nobs Theatre Inc, she made the decision to make her acting career her main focus and bring the dream to life.
This led Tascone to begin her journey with the Meisner Technique. “I fell in love with the technique. I started to understand just how much work goes into learning how to act.”
Always knowing she would be working in America in some capacity, Tascone felt like she needed more than what she was getting in Melbourne. She simply googled where the Meisner technique came from, which led her to The Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre in New York. She saw they offered a 6-week summer intensive course so she sent an email, and before she knew it, she had skyped with the international admissions officer, sent her application in, was accepted and was on her way to New York City for the summer 2016.
“This really changed the game for me. Living in New York for two months, training full time every day, in the hub of performance for the world, it was really eye opening, and any idea that this career was unattainable for me disappeared. I realised how obtainable it was and I knew that I could do it. I fell in love with the technique, the people, the teachers and New York! It really was love at first sight. So, I applied to do the two-year program.”
Tascone was accepted immediately. She returned to Melbourne for a year putting her new training to use with performances including at The Melbourne Athenaeum Theatre in Old Paradians Association’s Concert production Encore21. She saved every cent she could and returned to New York in 2017 to begin the two-year program at The Playhouse.
“The two-year program was even more life changing, and so much deeper than I could have ever imagined. I graduated May 2019 and I have been working and living in New York since.”
Tascone was lucky enough to get a New York agent straight away through The Neighbourhood Playhouse, and, only a few weeks later, was cast in an Off-Broadway production as part of the Rave Theatre Festival produced by Multi-Award Winning Broadway Producer Ken Davenport.
Oceanborn, a new musical written by two teenage girls, became a viral sensation and major hit of the festival.
“The show was so cool, and it had a huge social media following, people were asking me to sign Playbills and I was like, what, this is so weird!”
Most recently, Tascone had performed in A Sketch of New York at The Producer’s Club, showcased her talents in Bound for Broadway at The West End Lounge and starred in the short film That’s All for Today by Greasy Films Productions. Tascone had several projects lined up for 2020 but then the pandemic hit, most were cancelled and one postponed.
Tascone is like so many actors and performers in New York right now whose careers have been affected by Covid-19. She is lucky enough to continue her strong connection with The Neighborhood Playhouse and has participated in many auditions digitally during lockdown as well as several Zoom play readings.
“There has been a big shift in the industry, Broadway is closed for the year, a lot of projects have been cancelled or put on hold indefinitely. I’m noticing now that so much of the industry is going online, and I think once the pandemic is over a lot of the audition processes will stay online in the future”.
“One thing I am noticing is Zoom has been a big thing for my career. It has been interesting; some of the people I was going to be working with, or had worked with, the contacts are still there. People have been saying “I am going to do this project over Zoom, would you like to be involved in it?”, and it makes me so glad I was involved in my previous projects. The community has definitely held up and I have every faith that next year, there is going to be a lot of work for us.”
“People are saying that when the pandemic is over, it is going to be like another Golden Age on Broadway. New York is still New York, which is what I love to say to everyone! Based on what I have heard from friends, there are so many actors and performers out of work, but everyone is staying positive, knowing that; even though it is hard to be American right now, and it is hard to be an international in America right now, I think the only thing that is getting people through is knowing that things will be ok and it will be better than ever. People are craving people like us to help everyone come out of this funk when it’s all over. I think it’s going to explode in this big, beautiful, magical way; and with all these new ways of sharing the Arts, I think once everything goes back to “normal” there will be all these other avenues that can be explored now, just based on being deprived of the physical presence of the stage”.
Theatre People asked Tascone who she would list as her biggest influences in her career to date. “So many. But I am obsessed with Patrick Swayze and his career, I always tell people I am crazy for Swayze. One of the biggest reasons that I love him (I have read his book and watched almost all his movies) is he always just worked really, really hard and had faith that it’s going to happen despite so many hurdles he had to overcome and that mindset and dedication brought him so much opportunity.”
“I come from a family that is very traditional. The idea is that you graduate high school, go to university, get a job, buy a house and you have a family. I have kind of changed the timeline for myself so it’s been very challenging to do things differently but also incredibly rewarding. What I have found helpful is a lot of self-help and mindfulness work and yoga. I also occasionally like to listen to Alan Watts and Abraham Hicks talk about life, it’s very grounding.”
When asked if she had any advice for the young people with dreams who will read this article; Tascone provided these thoughts, “Remove the concept that this is not achievable for you. It is a useless thought, and you don’t need it. Do everything. Do EVERYTHING; you never know down the line, you will look back and say I am glad I did this show because I met this person, I learned this about myself and I learned this about this show and that person. The more you know and the more you experience will be so beneficial in this industry, regardless of where in the world you do it.”
Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre: http://neighborhoodplayhouse.org/home
Theatre People article written by Kelly-Louise Austin.