About Katie Ganem
- Favorite actress: Angela Lansbury
- Favorite actor: Jason Segel
- Favorite musical: Into the Woods
- Message for students: “Do not be afraid to do what you love.”
About Glo Gambino
- Favorite actress:Meryl Streep
- Favorite actor: Paul Newman
- Favorite musical/play: Waiting for Godot and Othello
- Message for students: "Comfort the afflicted. Afflict the comfortable."
When she was four years old, Katie Ganem '13 was bitten by the acting bug. Inspired by watching Les Miserables on PBS and starring in her first play at age eight, Ganem is now a musical theatre major at Nazareth ... and still dreaming of Broadway. Those dreams are closer to becoming reality. Last summer, with the support of friends and family, Ganem and six fellow Naz friends traveled to London, where her one-act play, The Goodbye Song, was performed three times at the International Youth Arts Festival (IYAF), a gathering of young people from ages 5 to 26 showcasing the very best in international youth arts. The play received positive reviews on the IYAF blog as a “must see” play that is “poignant yet witty.”
Written during Ganem’s freshman year at Nazareth, The Goodbye Song is about a family dealing with the father’s suicide a year after his death. While not autobiographical, Ganem says she has many friends who have been affected by suicide. “I wanted to take a chance and write something with high stakes,” she says of the somber subject matter.
“Katie is a real artist,” says Don Kot, director of the musical theatre program at Nazareth. “The Goodbye Song was put together with such love and care. It is really beautiful.”
Like Ganem, Gloria Gambino ’13 took a chance as well when she wrote and directed SMITH, a play that celebrates the life of her childhood friend, Zach Smith – a Marine who was killed in Afghanistan in 2010. Last September, selections from SMITH were performed at the Rochester Fringe Festival, a weeklong celebration of the performing and visual arts featuring world-renowned performers as well as up-and-comers like Gambino.
In high school, Gambino performed in school plays and participated in community theater. Though she started out her college career as a sociology major with a pre-law minor, most of her Nazareth friends were musical theatre majors, and by her sophomore year she had switched her major to theatre arts.
Nazareth’s department of theatre arts strives to prepare students for the professional theatre and music theatre world. Its program is small enough to provide opportunities students might not get at larger institutions.
“Although Nazareth is a small school, it works to our advantage,” says Ganem. “I’m able to act, direct, write…I don’t have to fit into one hole. And that’s great because theater isn’t about that.”
“The faculty has been incredibly supportive,” says Gambino. “They’ve kept up with what I’m doing on my own, and Nazareth’s office of veterans’ affairs has been wonderful to us when it comes to getting the word out on SMITH.”
"Gloria's energy, passion, and warmth of spirit make her the ideal theatre artist to tell the story of young Zach Smith's tragic death,” says Assistant Professor of Theatre Arts Matthew Ames. “I am confident that SMITH is only the first of many wonderful ideas for the stage that will come out of this talented young lady's head in years to come."
What’s next for Ganem and Gambino? When Ganem returned from London, she kept busy by directing the Summer Playwrights Festival in her hometown of Reisterstown, Md. She is also the artistic director of Open Space Arts, a community arts organization in Reisterstown. Back on campus this fall, she’s currently working on a full-length play. Gambino hopes to finalize the script for SMITH and get it performed outside of the Hornell/Rochester area. “I hope to have built enough opportunities around SMITH to one day take it to New York City or LA. That’s the dream for it.”