Hometown: North Haven, Conn.
Think of: A young Matthew Broderick.
What caught our eye: Gambardella’s adeptness at portraying two very different characters in New Repertory Theatre’s “Assassins’’: the smooth Balladeer and the agitated Lee Harvey Oswald in the moments before he shot JFK.
Light bulb moment: “Luckily for me, I knew from a very young age. My parents put me into an arts preschool in New Haven when I was 4. And I started taking dance, theater, visual arts, and music classes when I was in preschool. So the arts have always been an essential part of my life.’’
Biggest thrill: “I think the biggest thrill was the preview right before opening night of ‘Assassins.’ I was incredibly ill, and I was so concerned that I wouldn’t be able to sing at all. I took a lot of medication. But the thrill was having so much love and support from the community I was surrounded by. Everyone in the cast supported me. My director walked me across the street to an urgent care clinic. My voice and speech teacher gave me a private session before I went onstage. And the performance was good. I survived. It was a huge lesson to me about vulnerability, and that I can trust the work I’ve done and the training I’ve received.’’
Biggest surprise: “My biggest surprise was getting into Boston University. I was bullied a lot in school, and the confidence that I had in my talent was waning. I didn’t know if acting was a career I could be good at. That acceptance was a real vote of confidence.”
Inspired by: “I’m inspired by a lot of people. Ultimately, by work that is openhearted, generous, truthful, and in the moment. And by actors that I respect: Meryl Streep, Robin Williams, Daniel Day-Lewis, Mark Rylance. I saw ‘Jerusalem’ [starring Rylance] three times, and I was blown away.’’
Aspires to: “I’m at a crossroads between what my passion is and what I feel is my duty as a human in the 21st century. I’ve traveled a lot; I spent five months in Capetown and I traveled up through multiple countries on the eastern coast of Africa, performing and teaching magic in small communities. I really learned a lot about how much I don’t know, and how many important stories aren’t being told in the world. I’m really interested in how I can use my skills and my passion to leave the world better than I found it. But I’m only 22, and there’s a lot I don’t know. And I feel an obligation to learn a lot more before I share my voice, because I don’t even know what my voice is yet.’’
For good luck: “I have these knitted socks that my grandmother knit for me. They’re super-comfortable, and I don’t have to wash them that much. I wear them whenever I have a show, because I think they bring me good luck.’’
What people should know: “I’m a magician. I’m also a balloon artist. I’m also a hypnotist. I’ve used [those skills] multiple times in Europe and Africa and across the USA to thank people for their trust, and for letting me crash on their couch.’’
Coming soon: “The thing I’m working on right now is a Fulbright application.’’
Don Aucoin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.