Ypsilanti High School Alum Spotlight: David Bianco
Recently, as we were asking the community to share their great summer stories, we stumbled across the chance to talk to a proud Ypsilanti mom whose son, David, attended Ypsilanti High School. It turns out he not only sprouted his roots here as an actor and singer, but he’s now internationally-based and will bring the role of Marco Polo to life at the Shaw Theater in London this year.
Read on to see what Ypsilanti alum, David Bianco from Class of ’98 is up to!
YCS: Who/what most impacted your education at Ypsilanti High School?
DB: Diane Obrien gave me the opportunity to be in the play “Into The Woods” as Rapunzel’s Prince my Junior year in High School. I found so much freedom as a young man onstage. Finding one’s identity during those formative years can often be so challenging, and this role gave a goal to focus on, the support of a Professional Director, and the freedom to express myself.
YCS: Did you take theater while you were there?
DB: To be quite honest, I wasn’t always an actor. I began singing in the concert choir and chamber singers under Mr. Boggs. He was a consummate professional and had high standards for excellence. Fortunately (or unfortunately). I got into a bit of trouble my sophomore year, and was asked to leave the choir program. I was blessed to be invited by Diane to audition for “Into The Woods” the musical, and was was forever hooked. The next year I was subsequently cast in a production of “The Fantasticks.”
YCS: What were your first few gigs after graduation?
DB: During my senior year of High School my mom and I sat on the stage with Diane one day after school and we thought we would ask her if she though I had what it took to be a professional actor. She said…“yes.” That’s all I needed to hear. I applied to travel abroad for a year with an international community service and performance based group called UP WITH PEOPLE. We toured 27 states, three countries, and I was blessed to again receive a leading role. In fact, I had the chance to perform my role in Japanese…in Japan! Working with an international group of young people while traveling the world really opened my eyes to the possibility of a career outside the states.
I returned home after a year and decided to pursue a musical theater performance degree from Western Michigan University, and then my Masters Degree in Acting from The University of Missouri — Kansas City. The theater training learned at both schools enhanced my skill set, and solidified my resolve and determination to be a professional actor. I worked at the Barn Theater in Augusta Michigan one summer on an original musical called “Old Timer” as well as moving sets and signing chorus in “Pippin.” This was not glamorous work. We painted fences, and built sets during the day, and performed at night. I could clearly see at that time I was at the bottom of the pecking order (so to speak).
YCS: When did you know you had “made it”?
I honestly don’t know if I have “made it.” I have been working as an actor professionally now for over ten years and have continued earning a living and building my portfolio of work. Sometimes that means I am shooting commercials. Other times I am guesting on TV shows, or even Films. Sometimes I work for money, other times I collaborate because I can see the value and potential in a project. There is defiantly something to be said about getting in on a project when it is first conceptualized and in its early phases.
Making it is a process and I think some of the favorite roles that I have had the chance to do include the role of Marco Polo as well as Thomas in a play called “Venus In Fur” together with my wife Jennifer. She is immensely talented and generous onstage and we have had a few chances to work tother. In 2014 we also starred in a TV show called “The Boston” which was released internationally.
YCS: What’s a typical day on the stage/set like?
DB: I am currently living in London and rehearsing for a new musical by Filipino Artist Roger Chua called “Marco Polo: An Untold Love Story” of which I am playing the leading role. Six days a week my schedule is the following… Wake at 5am. Workout for an hour. Work on my script for an hour. Then Leave for rehearsal. I rehearse from 10am-6pm and if I am lucky will grab a pint of beer at the end of the day with a few castmates to rehash the day and wind down. Its usually in these little sessions that we get the chance to analyze our work, and try to improve the story and our motivations within the scenes. I am usually so exhausted from the days work and get to sleep by ten or eleven pm.
YCS: How did school/education prepare you for being on the stage/set?
DB: My education provided me the tools to succeed. Tools without actions and resolve are useless and it took age and experience for me to really appreciate all of the gifts I had been given. In fairness.. my family has been singing around the dinner table off and on my whole life. We are a musical family. So I did not have any hurdles to overcome with regards to being self conscious about my singing voice.
The theater training I received from Diane furthered my resolve to commit my life to the theater, and my schooling and travels solidified that course. Living in NYC and dealing with the struggles of putting food on the table coupled with finding our place in the theater scene ultimately paved the way for us to travel to the Philippines, where we found many hungry artists and producers looking to collaborate. My wife Jennifer and I worked in Film, TV, Commercials and Stage, where we made friends, found a community where we felt welcomed, and expanded our professional connections. These relationships paved the way for me to come to London.
YCS: What are your fondest memories of Ypsilanti?
DB: Building forts with my brother and sisters, neighborhood picnics, and bonfires in the backyard were some of my earliest and fondest memories. Also, I would have to say the friends I made while playing Soccer, Tennis, and Wrestling for YHS are still some of my dearest friends today . One of my fondest memories in recent years though is my 30th birthday. That day, my entire family (together with my grandmother from North Dakota and siblings from around the world) had taco salad at my parents house. It was one of the best days of my life. Its been six years since we have all seen each other.
YCS: Any pranks or great stories we should know about?
DB: As far as I know I was a little angel. You would have to ask my mom about that. (wink).
We want to thank David and his mom Deanna White for their time and willingness to talk about their fond memories of Ypsilanti. Isn’t it incredible to see that our alums go on to become stars — literally?! Follow David on Twitter at: @david_bianco #YCSdynamic