If a person was to describe Hillsborough resident and performer Louis Jannuzzi III as a tense trombonist, he likely wouldn’t take exception.
Because that’s just who Jannuzzi, 24, is playing as the character of Wayne Wright in the touring Broadway musical “Bandstand.”
Jannuzzi, a Hillsborough resident for more than 20 years, found himself cast as the trombone playing war veteran in the hit show for its first national tour this year after he discovered a passion for theater and music as a teen.
“When I was a kid, I took violin lessons and kept expanding on different instruments that I learned, but I didn’t start singing until high school,” Jannuzzi said. “Around my junior year, I was recording myself singing, listening to it and people were responding well.”
With a vested interest in music and performance, the Hillsborough teen said his mind was made up when he needed to declare a major for his collegiate studies at DeSales University in Center Valley, Pa.
“I honestly didn’t even think of anything else. I knew I liked history a lot, and I wanted to be a teacher like my parents at some point, but the thing that I really loved was theater,” Jannuzzi said. “I didn’t even think about how hard it was going to be or what kind of career it could lead to, and that there were limited options. I just loved theater and wanted to do it.”
As Jannuzzi’s journey to the stage progressed, he said multiple qualities in the performing arts drove his ambition to not let up.
“What keeps me going is that [theater] artistically fulfills me and my soul, and the need for me to give beauty back,” he said. “There is so much beauty in the world and so much art to give back to other people that have given me so much love, and it’s important to me that I give it back to them. The art of theater in which I’ve really grown to love is the kind of the theater that inspires and people respond to.”
Although desire and devotion to be on the big stage certainly proved to be pivotal in Jannuzzi’s eventual cast in “Bandstand,” he explained that the opportunity to audition for the musical came from an acquaintance in college.
The DeSales University alum said that during his senior year, the school invited casting director, Kate Lumpkin, to talk with students about the lifestyle of the performing arts in New York City. Jannuzzi explained that when he saw an opportunity to audition for the first national tour of “Bandstand” on her Facebook page, he jumped at it.
Once he completed the audition and callback process, Jannuzzi was cast for the role of the trombone player, Wayne Wright, in the musical.
The production takes place in 1945 after World War II and follows a group of afflicted American soldiers returning home as they seek a chance to rebuild their lives. When they hear of a national competition to find the country’s next great musical superstars, they form a band and discover the power of music as well as themselves along the way.
“I went from not playing trombone for six and a half years to playing trombone for three hours every day and even six hours some days,” Jannuzzi joked of his role as Wayne Wright.
Having toured with the show for five months in addition to more dates to follow, Jannuzzi said the opportunity has already been an “unbelievable” experience alongside his cast members.
“I didn’t expect to do anything like this this early out of college,” he said. “I’m incredibly grateful to be working with the likes of these people…It has been incredibly fulfilling, and the people here are unbelievably talented and kind. I’ve made some of my best friends on this tour.
“The best part about it is bringing the story to all of these towns and seeing people respond to it, which is really phenomenal,” Jannuzzi added.
Before his role in the musical comes to an end though, Jannuzzi offered a few words of advice for people in search of a chance to reach their goals and what to be mindful of along the way.
“There is still a long way to go and a lot more to do, but the best advice I could give is to live in the moment that you are given. Enjoy what you are doing right now.”