By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – It’s been another busy year for Nick Silverio since graduating from Shrewsbury High School (SHS) in 2013. After studying business as a freshman in 2013-2014 at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania while performing with its Arts House Dance Company, he decided to take a gap year. That plan has been extended as Silverio completes a five-city tour of “Elf the Musical,” including performances from Tuesday, Nov. 17, through Sunday, Dec. 6, at the Wang Theatre of the Citi Performing Arts Center in Boston.
“I really loved school, but also thought that I should at least try to pursue a career as a dancer and actor,” he explained.
Silverio’s mother, Jennifer Shepherd, thought her son could dance at age 3 when he’d mimic John Travolta’s onscreen moves in “Grease,” so she enrolled him in a children’s ballet class. While studying at Elite Academy of Dance from ages 13 to 18, he actively participated in stage productions at Shrewsbury public schools.
During freshman year at UPenn, Silverio auditioned in Philadelphia and earned a ticket to Los Angeles to compete on FOX-TV’s “So You Think You Can Dance” (“SYTYCD”). Later that year, he signed with a talent agency in New York City and relocated there.
Soon afterward, he booked a gig as a backup dancer on the semifinals of NBC-TV’s “America’s Got Talent.” Next, he was cast as an ensemble player in his first national tour of “Elf the Musical” from October through December 2014.
“It was such an incredible opportunity to travel the country,” he said. “I never thought I’d be performing for people in Lincoln, Nebraska, or Fort Worth, Texas.”
Silverio began 2015 by auditioning in Detroit once again for “SYTYCD.” This time, his mother accompanied him.
“The best part of that was being able to share it with my mom,” he said. “She got to see me go through to Vegas, which I think made her really proud.”
Silverio competed as a finalist in Las Vegas in April. He’s open to auditioning next year if there’s another season.
“I would love to try again – just for the sake of meeting great people,” he said.
Next, Silverio was cast in the musical “La Cage Aux Folles,” which ran from June through September at the Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam, Conn. Much of “La Cage” takes place in a nightclub featuring drag dancers known as The Cagelles. Silverio portrayed Clo-Clo.
“The biggest challenge was definitely the heels,” he noted. “In three-inch heels, I had to do back handsprings, aerials, handstands – a huge variety of acrobatic tricks.”
Since the theater is relatively nearby, many of his Shrewsbury friends and family got a chance to see him perform.
“Some of them had never seen me in a show before – let alone as a woman – so it was a new experience for everyone,” he said with a laugh.
Among those seeing him in “La Cage” was Lauren Mangano, artistic director at Elite Academy of Dance. On a day off from work, Silverio taught musical theater classes at Elite.
“Elite is like my home away from home,” he said. “Lauren is like my second mom. She raised me as a dancer.”
During the “La Cage” run, Silverio auditioned and booked the current “Elf” tour. Performing at Boston’s Wang Theatre is his dream come true.
“I grew up seeing shows at the Wang Theatre,” he shared. “I remember thinking, ‘One day, that’s going to be me onstage.’ Now, it is!”
Following Boston, Silverio will make his NYC stage debut in grand style. “Elf” is scheduled from Wednesday, Dec. 9, through Sunday, Dec. 27, at Madison Square Garden.
“It’s a dream contract at dream venues,” Silverio declared.
A few weeks later in January 2016, Silverio will get back to business studies at UPenn.
“I’m excited to continue my business education so that I can learn how to apply it to a career in musical theater or dance,” he said. “I definitely can see myself being very happy working on the other side of the industry.”