Hometown Hero Emily Borromeo Rocks in SCHOOL OF ROCK
Before she made the big move to the Big Apple and the Great White Way, School of Rock’s Emily Borromeo found her start and passion for theater in the Bay Area. Born in Berkeley, California, Emily grew up in Los Altos and attended Saint Simon Elementary School and Sacred Heart Preparatory in Atherton before furthering her education at Brown University.
Back in her hometown with the national tour of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s high-octane hit School of Rock – The Musical in the role of Patty, we had a chance to chat with this Bay Area native who told us all about her journey and what it took for her to get from her local theater scene to the bright lights of Broadway.
SHN: What was it like growing up in the Bay Area?
Emily Borromeo: I loved growing up in the Bay Area. It’s such a family friendly place, so I always had great opportunities for outdoor activities, sports camps, music education, and of course, you can’t beat the weather here. I was a lucky kid.
What were your first experiences with musical theater like in the Bay Area?
I first started musical theater in summer camps and school holiday concerts. I was 7 years old and remember that I loved being a part of putting on a big production. I would be giddy in rehearsal and loved being onstage. In one of my first plays, I played the goat in “Wind in the Willows.” I don’t think there was a goat in the story, but I was super proud and made my own costume.
How does your experience of growing up in the Bay Area influence your work on Broadway and now, in life on the road?
My family discovered Peninsula Youth Theater when I was 8, and I performed in their productions for a decade. I am eternally grateful to that place and all the wonderful people who work so hard to create a fun, safe, educational, collaborative, and passionate theater experience for young actors. All of the families get involved and volunteer by building sets, making tech rehearsal dinners, helping with costumes and makeup, putting up posters, decorating the lobby. My years at PYT provided such a wholesome experience and gave me the foundations of confidence and the skills I needed to continue in this career path. My parents were the most supportive, every step of the way. I was completely bolstered by their love and support and also lifted up when I experienced inevitable rejection in this business. Resilience and moving forward in the face of the roadblocks has been a major part of my path.
The Bay Area has so many awesome theater companies for young actors. I was able to participate in such a wide array of classes and musicals at these various organizations (PYT, CMTSJ, AMT, CTC, SCP, A.C.T., TheatreWorks to name a few). I was always performing or rehearsing, so my childhood was full of these rich learning experiences. I also remember sitting in the audience at the SHN Orpheum and Golden Gate Theatres, and the Curran, and watching in awe as professional actors sang and danced in the most magnetic ways. I could feel my heart leaping out of my chest and toward the stage. Being a part of the Bay Area community as a young artist helped me build confidence; understand the importance of diversity and inclusiveness; develop the fundamentals of discipline and hard work (and rejection too); and cultivate this love of theater that would become lifelong.
What are your favorite things about San Francisco/Bay Area?
San Francisco has amazing food, interesting people, and beautiful scenery. It oozes with creativity and forward thinking while also maintaining some grit. I love that in one day I can be riding a cable car through the historic hilly streets and then be hiking through Lands End, walking on the beach, and then end it with dumplings in Chinatown.
How has your experience with theater in the Bay Area prepared you for this role in SCHOOL OF ROCK?
I’m grateful for the amazing opportunities I had growing up in the Bay. Being in a community that values theater and has so much of it allowed me to take risks and explore my love of the arts. I took this hobby very seriously at times, so I built my toolkit of fundamentals that has served me well in the professional world. From being early and overly prepared to being kind and gracious to everyone, it’s all been a part of my work ethic as the years go on. I was hungry to work and be a better artist, and I had wonderful directors who recognized that and pushed me to stretch and grow. They took me seriously and encouraged my seed of a dream to become this career I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world.
What advice would you, now, tell your younger self if you could send a message back in time?
I’d tell myself to embrace the learning opportunities that come from making mistakes because that’s where the gold is. I’d also say to learn to laugh at yourself earlier on… it lightens the load. And, also, be patient. Your time will come. The sweetest fruit might be far away at the top of the tree but it is so worth the climb.
Lastly, IN-N-OUT or SHAKE SHACK?
In-N-Out. It can’t be beat. Someone once told me it was coming to NYC but it was an April Fool’s Joke. That was harsh!
Don’t miss your shot in seeing Bay Area native EMILY BORROMEO in SCHOOL OF ROCK, now playing its final week through July 22 at the SHN Orpheum Theatre. Buy your tickets now at shnsf.com!