By Isabella Harnick
“Showtime! Places, places, everyone.”
Junior Isabella Malfi looked out at the crowd, amazed at how far she had come. It wasn’t long ago that the only audience she entertained was at South. Now, merely steps away from Broadway, she performed for a broader audience in her first off-Broadway production, Expedition.
Expedition, a play about a gay couple experiencing the ups and downs of a long-distance relationship, ran this past summer at Fourth Street Theatre in Manhattan. Malfi starred as a woman named Gail, the potential love interest of one of the gay men. Malfi’s character “complicates and accidentally ruins the gay couple’s relationship. Gail is a sad and difficult character because you want the two men to work through the trials and tribulations, but at the same time, you want to see Gail happy with the man she loves,” said Malfi.
Malfi’s performance at the Thespian Festival, an event where actors can showcase their talents to a panel of judges, resulted in her casting in Expedition. It just so happened that one of Malfi’s judges was a casting agent for the National Theatre for Student Artists. A few days after the festival, drama teacher Mr. Tommy Marr received a phone call requesting that Malfi send in a video audition. Shortly after the submission, Malfi received another call from a casting agent informing her that the part was all hers. “Out of excitement, I lost my voice entirely and couldn’t formulate a single sentence. It took me five minutes to get the words ‘Thank you so much’ out of my mouth,” Malfi said.
Malfi owes much of her theatrical success in Expedition and beyond to her family. With her father a performer throughout college and her grandmother both a vocalist and an actress, Malfi was “practically drowned in the stuff,” she said. In fact, her younger sister, Beatrice Malfi, shared the stage with Malfi in South’s recent production of Into the Woods.
Malfi’s recent performances in Expedition and Into the Woods have allowed Malfi to grow as an actress. “I find that with each performance, I become a better actress. As a younger kid, I wasn’t really acting, I was pretending. But with maturity and practice comes the ability to make the character you’re embodying a living, breathing thing that an audience can learn to love,” Malfi said.
In this year’s upcoming Theatre South production of Rumors, Malfi will be switching roles from actor and singer to assistant director. “I think the hardest part about directing is having confidence in your decisions as a director. Additionally, directing my fellow classmates will be difficult because they’re my friends! I’m sure it’ll be hard to buckle down and focus on the task at hand as we might be having a bit too much fun,” Malfi said.
Malfi is not sure what her future holds, but she is “definitely sure” that it is theatre. She said, “I just can’t wait to see where and what it will lead to.”