Star ready for the next stage

By Cobram Courier

One of St Mary of the Angels’ favourite performing arts students has closed the curtain on a storied stage career.

Jo Diretto, 17, took her final curtain call at the close of this year’s production The Drowsy Chaperone.

The Year 12 student from Cobram has been an immense talent, appearing in all St Mary of the Angels’ productions since starting at the school in 2013.

The Nathalia school’s 2018 production director Shannon Orlandi said Jo had been a valued participant of the school’s performing arts program, not only for her outstanding work onstage, but her offstage talents, too.

‘‘As an arts captain, Jo has been a mentor to the younger cast members, inspiring them and teaching them on all things performance,’’ Ms Orlandi said.

‘‘Additionally, as a past Georgy Awards nominee, Jo has never let that accolade go to her head, remaining humble and down-to-earth in a sometimes competitive theatre scene.

‘‘Her performances onstage are phenomenal, with her smaller roles in Annie, to growing into the confident, bedazzling character of The Drowsy Chaperone this year. Her absence will be felt but her influence will remain.’’

As co-directors of previous St Mary of the Angels productions, Vanessa Byrnes and Gerri Eden agreed Jo’s contribution over the years had been tremendous.

‘‘It has been a privilege to watch her blossom as an actress and musician over the last five years,’’ Ms Byrnes said.

Ms Eden wished Jo well in what she expected to be ‘‘a stellar career’’.

Jo’s performing arts career to date consists of an impressive body of work including appearances in Pirates of the Caribbean, Bye Bye Birdie and Annie, in which she played five roles, including a star to be, a Boylan sister and a homeless man.

She also had roles in The Pirates of Penzance, Pippin, Cinderella and The Little Mermaid, for which she was nominated for a Georgy Award.

In her final role, Jo personified the title character in The Drowsy Chaperone..

Jo said her last role at the school would always hold a special place in her heart.

‘‘The Drowsy Chaperone has been my favourite. She was fun to play. She was very free, she could do what she wanted. It was a fun part to play,’’ she said.

‘‘I’ve always loved theatre. That’s the reason I chose St Mary of the Angels because of their productions and performing arts program.

‘‘Being a part of a production provides an opportunity to form friendships across year levels. That’s the best part, the lasting friendships you make.’’

Jo hopes to attend the National Institute of Dramatic Arts in Melbourne next year before pursuing a career in acting and musical theatre.