Freeport talent Belle Bongiorno will grace stages across the country after securing a role in the national tour of “Hits! The Musical.”
The 18-year-old will join 28 other entertainers when they take the stage to showcase America’s most iconic songs in the production.
Growing up in Freeport, Bongiorno has always been drawn to the town’s coastal culture, having spent much of her childhood by the water.
“A lot of my favorite memories are honestly just hanging out with friends and going to get ice cream and sitting by the dock,” Bongiorno said. “It was just such a great feeling to be there by the water with them.”
At 17, she landed her first job on a boat on the Nautical Mile, working as a sales associate and eventually being trained to be a first mate, responsible for the passengers and the boat’s maintenance.
However, Bongiorno’s true passion for the performing arts started at a young age. She was cast in multiple productions of Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker,” and performed the lead role of Clara when she was just 12.
This experience sparked her love for the stage, and led her to audition for other opportunities in and around New York City as she got older.
Growing up, she was heavily involved in ballet, training at the Joffrey Ballet School in New York City and participating in professional dance school ballets. Despite her passion for ballet, she always looked for new audition opportunities to perform different dance incarnations.
“Being a dancer, I love to go to any audition opportunities I can get,” Bongiorno said. “I just feel like putting yourself out there and auditioning for all these different types of things is really important.”
It was this desire that led her to audition for “Hits! The Musical,” with a national tour that will visit 49 cities around the country. The musical features different genres of music through different decades.
Bongiorno’s audition experience was unexpected. She signed up as a dancer, but due to a mix-up, she was placed in the singing room. Despite being out of her comfort zone, Belle decided to stay and audition as a singer. To her surprise, she was called back to Tampa as a singer, sparking a new passion for music and performing.
The musical’s uniqueness stems from being an all-youth production, where performers range in age from 10 to 22. “Hits! The Musical” aspires to break down boundaries by demonstrating that age does not influence one’s ability to perform at a professional level.
Following a thorough country-wide audition process, 29 singers and dancers were chosen to be the musical’s national tour, which begins March 1.
Though it may be a long winded journey, Bongiorno will perform in her home state, returning ever so briefly to perform at Town Hall in New York City on March 9.
“I love New York City and it’s going to be really exciting to be back there,” Bongiorno said. “I’m very excited to be back in my hometown and see all of my friends and family in the audience. I think that’s just going to be a really cool experience.”
Bongiorno shared her favorite memory from the beginning of the tour, describing a commercial shoot as the highlight.
“We went to this awesome filming studio, and we tried on so many different costumed looks,” Bongiorno said. “That’s when it really started to feel super real. Like this is really happening. We were on stage with the cameras all around and the cool lights, the music costumes, it was all such a surreal experience.”
In addition to her passion for performing, Bongiorno is also an accomplished dancer. When she is not rehearsing for the musical, she teaches dance classes at her local dance studio, Miss Colleen’s Elite Dancentre, where she hopes to inspire young dancers to pursue their dreams.
Outside her love of music, she enjoys hiking, visiting the beach, and exploring the city. She also loves concerts and taking road trips. In the summer, she works as a host for karaoke cruises at a local bay cruise boat company.
When the musical tour concludes, Bongiorno’s plan is to travel the world as a performer and share her love and enthusiasm for singing, dancing, and performing with hopes of inspiring future generations.
“I’m just super excited to be sharing my love for performing on stages all around the country,” Bongiorno said. “I think this is just an incredible opportunity that I’m so blessed to have been given. It’s definitely going to take a lot of hard work every single day, but it’s going to pay off and hopefully will open new opportunities to come.”