In Broadway's CATS, Giuseppe Bausilio exploded across the stage as the wild and rascally Carbucketty. With fiery exuberance, he transformed steps into drama, songs into lullabies, dosing out magic with his sheer joy of performing. He recently left his cat suit behind to join his fifth Broadway show, Hello, Dolly! Though he's only 19, he makes dreams like "originating a leading role on Broadway" sound possible.
Broadway shows: Currently in Hello, Dolly!, starting previews this month. Past shows include CATS, Aladdin, Newsies and Billy Elliot.
Television: Plays Alfie, a dancer and runaway prince, in Season 4 of "The Next Step," a Canadian teen drama about an ultra-competitive dance team
Hometown: Bern, Switzerland
Training: Began studying ballet at age 4 at his parents' school, American Swiss Ballet, in Bern and New York City
Accolades: Youth America Grand Prix silver and bronze medals, junior division; additional awards from competitions in France and Italy
Photo by Nathan Sayers
Special sauce: Bausilio credits his family for where he is today. His parents were both professional dancers and his older brother, Yannick Bittencourt, is a dancer at the Paris Opéra Ballet. "They taught me how to be a professional at a very young age," he says. "I take a ballet class every morning."
A little luck and lots of hard work: While at YAGP, a casting director spotted Bausilio and asked him to audition for the role of Billy Elliot. He barely spoke English and his only training had been ballet. Bausilio spent the summer speed-learning tap, hip hop, gymnastics and singing. "I nodded a lot and pretty much said yes to everything." It paid off. He got the role and spent two years playing Billy Elliot on tour, in Chicago and on Broadway.
An unexpected curve: Three months into CATS, Bausilio's back gave out. Doctors found a rare vascular tumor in his spinal canal and removed it during a six-hour surgery. "I think this was kind of a sign telling me, 'Giuseppe, you've got to breathe for a second.' "
"Every choreographer in NYC will be fighting over the chance
to have Giuseppe in the trenches with us!" —Andy Blankenbuehler
Bouncing back: Bausilio was out of CATS for 15 weeks and used the downtime to work on his upcoming EP and a one-man cabaret show—he's also a singer/songwriter and plays guitar and keyboard.
What Andy Blankenbuehler is saying: "Giuseppe has impeccable dance technique. He sings like a bird and is a pro at creating a character through his performing," says the CATS choreographer. "But his passion is what makes him a standout. He has a generosity of the heart that touches everyone onstage and in the audience."
What's next: The ensemble of Hello, Dolly!, starring Bette Midler. "It's insane, the people I get to work with," Bausilio says, and chants a litany of names: "Warren Carlyle, the choreographer, Jerry Zaks, multiple Tony Award–winning Broadway director. Amazing people, legends! I think I've used the words 'insane' and 'crazy' about a hundred times in this past hour. But that's really what my life has been."