The Emily Tarallo Story

Emily Elizabeth Tarallo has seen the performing arts stage from both sides.

“My mother (Amy London) is a brilliant director/stage manager, and my father (Barry Tarallo) is an actor/musician with one of the best voices I’ve ever heard. He performed on and Off-Broadway in Grease and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. I remember growing up in various theaters, watching them on stage. It’s all I’ve ever known.” 

Early in life – around age 3 – Emily took a fancy to dancing and has turned that passion into an enduring vocation. For 20-plus years, she has toiled to perfect her talent – and has since added acting and singing to her mix of abilities.

With a reputation for on-stage professionalism and a lengthy resume of performances in theatrical venues throughout South Florida, the brown-eyed, auburn-haired daughter of two troupers who also sport crimson tresses is setting stage work aside — for just a while. She’s getting ready for one of the biggest “shows” of her life – marriage, in January 2022, to fiancé Mark Gaeta.

“He’s not a performer,” she said of her groom-to-be, an attorney whom she met during spring break 2013 at Briny’s Irish Pub in downtown Fort Lauderdale. But he has been known to sing along with his betrothed during show rehearsals.

Busy Emily is waiting until the wedding celebration passes to re-launch her singing, dancing and acting career. In the meantime, teaching and frequent dance practices help her to stay toned and prepared for the restart. 

Emily did, however, close out the latest chapter in her song-and-dance foray with a significant early summer event. In June, she was one of nine show folks in Story of a Life, a musical written by her mother, with a cast that included friends and colleagues. More importantly, it was the first time ever that Emily shared the performance stage with her parents. The show played June 18-20 at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. 

The poignant script drew upon the “challenging and emotionally draining” experience endured by Amy London and her family while dealing with her own mother’s Alzheimer’s disease.

Story of a Life featured the actors in multiple roles as caregivers, families, friends and patients. The soundtrack mixed in songs from Harry Chapin, Jim Croce, Dan Fogelberg and Paul Simon, among other composers. Patrick Fitzwater of Slow Burn Theatre directed. 

The story of Emily’s own life began in Manhattan, but she and her parents soon moved to South Florida where the call of burgeoning opportunities for stage work beckoned. She spent most of her growth years in Davie, and now calls Plantation home.

Dancing throughout the household was a common scene in the Tarallo residence, where the elder child of Amy and Barry worked at developing her performance style. She was joined a few years later by a brother, AJ Tarallo, who has opted for baseball rather than performing.

Emily was a competition dancer throughout her childhood – beginning around age 8. “I took part in many different competitions and won medals all around the country.” In fact, she became infatuated with Terpsichorean trappings and moved on to Florida State University around 2014 where she was a part of the prestigious dance team, Golden Girls, for three years, serving as a team captain and co-choreographer. Also at FSU, she earned a bachelor’s degree in women’s studies and psychology.

“My coach opened a dance studio and she asked me if I wanted to teach,” said Emily, who accepted the position. By age 18, she was literally setting the stage for work in dance education – something she’s been doing ever since.

An avid and capable dancer with lots of credentials to prove it, Emily has taught master classes and is a resident teacher and choreographer at many competitive dance studios around Florida and Georgia. She has trained with some top instructors, among them, Richard Pena, Annette Cutches, Emily Shock, Mia Michaels, Travis Wall, Sheila Barker, Frank Hatchett, Doug Caldwell and Mark Meismer.

In fact, Emily had just concluded a Monday afternoon dance instruction class at a studio in Boca Raton when she arrived for an interview for this magazine on a hot, August afternoon at the Starbucks in Mizner Park. There, she recounted the days of her life over a cold beverage.

The young dance maven said she added acting to her repertoire after auditioning for a role that she didn’t realize involved acting. “I got the part of Fritzi in Cabaret at the Broward Stage Door Theatre,” she said. It worked out so well that she went on to tackle an acting/dancing role in A Chorus Line, also at Broward, portraying Lois and understudying Val.

During the run of the show, she also handled the duties of dance captain – a job she has frequently filled in subsequent productions. In that added task, “I’m responsible for conducting brush-up rehearsals, teaching choreography and making sure all the dance numbers look clean and sharp.”

She has also performed in Peter Pan, West Side Story, Footloose, Curtains, Hair, Swing, Swing, Swing, Singin’ in the Rain, Beauty and the Beast and Rock of Ages, among others. Many involved both acting and dance captain responsibilities.

Emily’s theatrical abilities got a very personal boost from an important person in her extended family – her late stepfather, Bruce Adler, who by the 1990s was a touted and talented Broadway actor with a couple of Tony nominations to his credit.

Divorced from Barry, Amy met Bruce while working with him at productions in the Fort Lauderdale area, and they married in 2003. “We went to New York a lot to see Bruce in shows,” said Emily. She told how she was blessed with a father and stepfather who sported brilliant comic abilities and invaluable stage experience.

She said the Adler/Tarallo/London family has remained close through the years. Bruce passed away in 2008, but is survived by a son, Jake, who has just entered ninth grade. Emily and her mom frequently post the high schooler’s photo on Facebook while discussing things like “pizza parties at the Adler/Tarallo/London” home that continue to solidify the familial bond.

Bruce Adler earned a Tony nod for Those Were the Days, a 1990 revue of songs and sketches recalling Yiddish theater and another in 1992 for Crazy for You, a hit musical fashioned from George and Ira Gershwin songs knitted together with an original book by Ken Ludwig.

Emily had a chance to appear in Crazy for You at the Wick as Tess in 2019 opposite a friend and colleague, Wayne LeGette, portraying Bela Zangler – the role Adler deftly created on Broadway.

“After knowing her as long as I have, and worshiping Bruce as an actor, it was a thrill to play Zangler opposite her Tessie in Crazy for You,” Wayne said. “It was so easy to fall in love with her on stage eight times a week.”

“As she and I were singing ‘My Sweet Embraceable You’ in the finale, I could always make her laugh right before she was about to go tap her heart out. It happened at every show. That moment was Emily and Wayne, not Bela and Tessie. I love actors who can do that. Being so secure in the character that it’s okay to let some personal chemistry come through.”

Wayne is touched by another Emily moment when he and Crazy for You male lead Matt Loehr flawlessly executed their mirror image dance. “How did I know we nailed it?” commented Wayne. “Because Emily watched every second of it from off right — and cried. For a second, Bruce was there for her, through me, and that was an honor.”

Family has gained new significance since the COVID pandemic, said Emily. “This year made people re-evaluate the importance of family and taking self-care.” She also found the coronavirus break from hectic living somewhat refreshing. “Everyone can use a pause. You realize you don’t have to work yourself to the bone.”

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