Gabrielle Sansone is known for her , but she also has a big heart.
The 12-year-old Mohegan Lake resident has been singing, dancing and acting professionally for years, and often at charitable events.
Gabrielle along with Peekskill's violinist Daisy Jopling, . Best known for her outstanding performance as Annie at the Paramount Center for the Arts in Peekskill, the role of the orphan has heightened the young performer's awareness of underprivileged kids. Gabrielle has contributed to food pantries and other programs over the years.
"I think playing the role of Annie gave me more confidence and it made me see myself just as me and I don't have to be anyone else," Gabrielle said. "I have family, I'm loved by everyone. I have so many wonderful things in my life that I'm so thankful for."
The talented girl speaks with such confidence and maturity and lights up when she talks about performing and being on stage. She is full of dreams and hopes for her future – from becoming a professional performer on Broadway, to combining her other passions for horses and skiing, and becoming a veterinarian.
"Not all kids have the chance to do what I do," Gabrielle said. "They're not as lucky as me to have music in their life."
That's why it has been important for her to get involved and perform at charities. Her mother Deborah Catalano-Sansone said her two daughters often give back to needy kids through the Toys for Tots program and make Easter baskets for in Mohegan Lake.
"For us as a family, we look around and we know we live in a world where the economy is not great and people are struggling," Catalano-Sansone said. "What [my daughters] can learn in life, there is always something you can give – whether it's your time or your talent."
In her latest performance, Gabrielle plays Candy in the off-Broadway musical Zombie Prom. She said she has to put her own twists to develop her character, whom she describes as the most immature girl out of the rest of the characters, but one everyone could rely on.
Despite some of the challenges – like keeping up with school work – Gabrielle has had to face since she has started pursuing her passion, she enjoys performing and wouldn't give it up for the world.
"I enjoy doing what I do a lot," she said. "I like to see the smile on everyone's faces when they enjoy the performance."
Gabrielle said her family supports her with all the decisions she makes about her performance career – from the dancing and singing lessons, to what new production she could be a part of.
"When I walk on stage and the light hits on me, every bit of nervousness goes away," Gabrielle said. "It's like a second home to me."
The young performer sang at her First Communion when she was 5 years old at in Shrub Oak in front of a thousand people. Then, she said she went from singing at church to auditioning for the production of Cats.
She has since been a part of numerous professional, regional theater and concerts, including the productions of Peter Pan, Cats, The Lottery, Broadway Revue, Cinderella, the Wizard of Oz and the most recent Zombie Prom.
There are no doubts Gabrielle will make it big one day and she said she will keep on working until she gets there. Her advice to other kids, who might be just as passionate about performing as she is, is to try their hardest, not feel as if they have to "out do themselves" because it's not a competition.
"Kids should never think of a mistake they've made as something bad, but look at it as an opportunity that they can do it better next time," Gabrielle said.
Her mother said Gabrielle's maturity comes from being exposed to different people, environments and music. She is disciplined and has a truly positive outlook of life.
Zombie Prom: Atomic Edition is based on the hit Off-Broadway musical Zombie Prom. Broadway Workshop's Marc Tumminelli along with the original creators have adapted the script and music for the new edition of Zombie Prom. The pilot workshop production will be used as a development site for future physical production elements and a venue to test script content with young actors.
The final presentation will be on Sunday, April 29 at the 5 Agles Theatre in New York City. All tickets are $10. Click here to purchase tickets.
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