By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
SHREWSBURY/GRAFTON – Laura Gulli, RN, a Shrewsbury native now residing in Grafton, works as a labor and delivery nurse while also raising her young children. Pre-pandemic, she also frequently delivered musical performances to audiences in her hometown and beyond.
“I was doing three to four shows a year,” she said of her pre-pandemic routine. “Something that I’m lacking so immensely right now is my involvement in theater. It balances who I am. It makes me a better mom, a better person.”
Gulli personifies the showbiz term “triple threat,” an entertainer who excels in acting, singing and dancing.
As a self-described shy child, she started acting in elementary school plays and subsequently began studying dance. While attending Shrewsbury High School (SHS), her singing skill was recognized by Bonnie Narcisi, the now-retired district director of music and drama.
“Bonnie encouraged me to audition for her a cappella group, which opened up doors for me in musicals,” Gulli relayed. “I liked having the three avenues where I could explore acting, singing and dancing. It made sense that I could do musical theater.”
Immersed in the arts
After graduating from SHS in 2001, Gulli attended the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City.
“It was completely performance driven,” she said of the curriculum. “I loved being immersed in the arts from morning to night.”
Although Gulli achieved some success working in New York theaters, she ultimately moved back to Shrewsbury several years later.
“I gave up on myself a little too quickly,” she acknowledged. “I didn’t have the thick skin that I feel like I have today. I’ve toughened up quite a bit.”
Discovering another passion
Soon afterward, Gulli discovered another passion. She earned a nursing license at Becker College in 2008. Now, she’s a labor and delivery nurse at Saint Vincent Hospital in Worcester.
“I chose labor and delivery because I was a young mom at 23,” she explained. “I love moms and babies, so it’s a good fit for me.”
Additionally, she appreciates her co-workers.
“I adore my work family,” she declared. “I enjoy working with these intelligent women and helping other women bring new life into the world.”
Shrewsbury stage comeback
After only a brief hiatus, Gulli returned to the stage. Her mentor, Bonnie Narcisi, was among the founders of the Shrewsbury-based Regatta Players. Gulli performed in Regatta’s 2010 inaugural production, “Baby.”
“It was exciting to be part of a new theater group in Shrewsbury,” she recalled.
Later, when Regatta presented “Young Frankenstein” in 2018, Gulli merged her theatrical and maternal instincts.
“I was seven months pregnant, and I did a tap dance number in a full tux,” she recounted. “The dancing was actually easy; the challenge was getting into the costume. My castmates helped me put on my tap shoes because I literally couldn’t reach my feet at that point.”
Would this labor and delivery nurse advise her patients to tap dance?
“Sure, go for it!” she exclaimed. “You only live once.”
Throughout 10 years, Gulli appeared in most of Regatta’s musicals, including its last, 2019’s “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.” Pandemic restrictions canceled Regatta’s 2020 show and ultimately closed the theater group.
Camaraderie in community theaters
Gulli has worked alongside some Regatta alumni at other community theaters.
Her resume also includes shows at Barre Players Theater, Stageloft Repertory Theater in Sturbridge, Sterling Community Theater and Vanilla Box Productions in Worcester.
She’s looking forward to once again sharing stages with her performing pals.
“I can’t wait to see my theater friends again,” she noted. “When we get back to some normalcy, I won’t ever take it for granted.”