Kelsey Tarantino is headed for Carnegie Mellon University to study acting.


Kelsey Tarantino is one big step closer to her goal of acting on Broadway.
Tarantino, a 2012 Santa Rosa High School graduate who has performed in more than 20 local productions, recently began acting classes at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.
The ArtQuest dance student was among a small group of students selected in auditions for the university’s theater program. Even better, she is receiving a full-ride scholarship there.
“I’m pretty much beginning this golden dream that I’ve had ever since I can remember,” she said.
Tarantino, 18, began dancing at age 4. She said she not only did ballet but also Irish dancing “because I was pretty much obsessed with ‘River Dance’ when I was young.”
At age 6, she got her first taste of community theater by appearing in “Honk,” a production of Santa Rosa Junior College’s Summer Repertory Theatre.
She went on to perform in productions with Santa Rosa Players and 6th Street Playhouse. She was about 9 when she played the role of young Cosette in Santa Rosa High’s “Les Miserables.”
When it came time to enter high school, she made a last-minute decision to become a Panther and was able to enter the school’s ArtQuest dance program. That meant two periods of dance class each day for four years.
“That was one of the best experiences,” she said.
Along with learning from instructors and her fellow dancers, she enjoyed being on a campus with so many students interested in acting, music and the visual arts.
“We all love seeing each others’ different work,” she said.
Among community productions, Tarantino mentioned two highlights: The student productions of “Rent” at Santa Rosa’s 6th Street Playhouse and “Spring Awakening” at the Spreckels Performing Arts Center in Rohnert Park.
“Those were the first roles that I had ever done that were very serious roles,” she said.
At Santa Rosa High, she ended senior year by not only playing a lead role but also choreographing the spring’s show, “The Producers.” It was a challenge, she said, but also “double the fun.”
“As much as I love dancing, I love to choreograph and create numbers.”
When the time came to choose a college, she said she selected Carnegie Mellon in part because of meeting its theater department’s directors and other staff at an audition in Southern California.
“They just made me feel comfortable and not very nervous,” she said.
After a youth spent more as a singer and dancer, Tarantino said she’s looking forward to the study of acting.
The training can prepare her for roles in TV and film. Even so, after college, she wants to pursue theatrical work in New York.
“That has always been my dream to be on the Broadway stage,” she said.

You can reach Staff Writer Robert Digitale at 521-5285 or

Kelsey Tarantino
Age: 18
birthplace: Santa Rosa
Lives with: Parents Steve and Chrissy Tarantino; brother Chris, 20, and sister Taylor, 16. Also has a big sister, Michaela Tarantino, 21.
What in her iPod?: “Carry On” by Fun; “The Wizard and I” from “Wicked; “Blue Wind” from “Spring Awakening.”
Favorite hobby: Creative writing, journaling.
Dream job: Performing on stage or in film.
Favorite TV show: “The Office.”
Favorite food: Spaghetti.
Quote: “No day but today,” from “Rent.”

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