Montclair Magazine Fall 2022 | Page 12



LisaVettoso Bloomfield resident helps bring diverse books alive on stage WRITTEN BY CINDY SCHWEICH HANDLER

Lisa Vettoso believes in the power of performance , and in not letting age or distance get in the way ofenjoying it . Adancer asachild , she discovered theater as asenior at Immaculate Heart Academy in Bergen County , and was active in theater groups atVillanova University . She has since founded and continues to operate Aspire Performing Arts Company in Wayne , making musical theater performance accessible to kids as young as6 . Two years ago , she was named executive director of Literature to Life , anonprofit that sends professional actors to perform hour-long adaptations of books such as The Brief Wondrous Life ofOscar Wao at theaters , schools and other settings ranging from the Library of Congress to Manhattan ’ s Little Island park . Vettoso says she can do much of her work remotely from her Bloomfield home , where she lives with her husband , their newborn , Henry , and three dogs . Here are 8 things to know about Lisa Vettoso .

HER FIRSTJOB OUT OF SCHOOL WASASEDITOROFATRADE MAGAZINE . After producing , directing and choreographing student musicals at Villanova , Vettoso came home to Bergen County and found a job as the editor of Modern Grocer . For two years , she covered the retail food industry .“ My major was in communication and my minor was in theater ,” she says . “ I wrote about the goings on at ShopRite and A & P .”
SHE GOT STARTED IN THE WAYNE AREACHOREOGRAPHINGASHOW AT THE Y . Vettoso missed working in the theater , soshe went to grad school at NYU and received a masters in educational theater . She loved working with children , she says , and didn ’ twant to teach in a classroom . A job at the Wayne YMCA choreographing a version of Guys and Dolls for young people familiarized her with the community and the community with her , leading to ajob running aprogram for younger students at the Boys and Girls Club in Pequannock . In 2011 , she launched Aspire Performing Arts Company , a musical production company for children , teens and young adults .
SHE BROUGHT INTERNATIONAL MUSIC AND ARTS PROGRAMMING TO NEWYORK CITY STUDENTS . Her after-hours work at Aspire allowed Vettoso to take ajob in Carnegie Hall ’ s education department . While
there , she helped recreate a program from Berlin that brought music to New York City students in second grade through high school , and ran a weekend family concert series . As managing director of the NYC Arts in Education Roundtable , director of education and community programming at the American Repertory Ballet and director of education at the New York Pops , she put together conferences , panels and in-school content to make arts accessible to children in the New York metropolitan area .
SHE SAYS THAT BEING SUCCESSFUL IN THE THEATER AND WORKING WITH KIDS REQUIRES ASIMILAR SKILLSET . Managing young people in a theatrical setting requires flexibility , says Vettoso . “ You have to be able to walk in aroom and deal with whatever comes at you that day ,” she says . “ The students have different levels of ability and styles of learning , some with special needs .” This is also true , she says of working in the theater in general . “ We try to instill in our performers that there will be things you don ’ t expect , and you have to go with it ,” she says . “ If you forget your line or the music doesn ’ t start , you have to be able to keep going . And you should always bring a positive attitude to the situation .”
ASPIRE PERFORMING ARTS COMPANY IS A ‘ PILOT THEATER .’ Vettoso describes Aspire , which holds rehearsals on evenings and weekends for students as young as