Think of: A young hybrid of Harold Prince and Stephen Sondheim.
What caught our eye: Barbato is directing a musical he wrote and co-composed called “Alice,” at Wheelock Family Theatre. Based on the books “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and “Alice Through the Looking Glass” by Lewis Carroll, Barbato’s show focuses on the character as she comes to terms on her 13th birthday with growing up.
Lightbulb moment: An actor since the age of 4, Barbato grew up in community theater. He performed throughout high school and started his own theater company, Cellar Door, not long after graduation. After moving to New York to pursue acting, Barbato was unsatisfied with how actors are often at the “beck and call’ of their talent agencies, so he started writing his own content. “When I moved to New York, I realized that if I wanted to be empowered in any way in this field, I would have to make my own opportunities.”
Biggest thrill: “Having the support of a professional theater behind me, saying, ‘We believe in you as an artist and we’re going to facilitate your dreams.’ ”
Biggest surprise: The demands of directing a show. Barbato calls it a “constant learning curve.”
Inspired by: “People who make it happen for themselves” — Lisa Kudrow, Lena Dunham, and the PigPen Theatre Company.
Aspires to: “Self-reliance in the arts. It’s definitely hard, but that’s the path that I’m on.”
For good luck: “I’ve written three shows. From two of these shows I have these little tattoos. I don’t have one for ‘Alice’ yet but I’m getting one.”
What people should know: “I didn’t have this sort of typical past. I didn’t go to college. I just kind of left high school and moved to New York and started doing my thing. I really think it’s important to start changing the narrative about what it means to be a successful person in society. I hope to be a living example of that. I’m not there yet. I’m still this 20-something-year-old mess in a lot of ways. I’ve been growing as an artist, and that’s all that matters to me at this point.”
Coming soon: Wheelock Family Theatre is presenting “Alice” through Nov. 16. Performances are Fridays at 7:30 p.m. and weekend afternoons at 3 p.m. Tickets $20-$35.