After watching the film “Pitch Perfect 2” for the first time, Daniel Pigliavento was more than happy with his performance.
“I felt like we really nailed it,” said Pigliavento, who plays a member of an a cappella group in the film, released May 15 and starring Anna Kendrick and Rebel Wilson.
“I thought the movie was much more humorous than the first one, and I think Das Sound Machine brought a whole new level to the movie. All of our guys really worked hard on the dancing, and there were only four or five guys in our group of 15 who couldn’t sing,” he said.
Dancing is something he excels at. A Rotterdam native and Albany resident, he hasn’t been home much lately. He is just finishing up a role as Prince Siegfried in the Ballet Theatre of Scranton production of “Swan Lake,” and after a brief visit back to the Capital Region he will head to New York City, where he will be working and training at the Joffrey Ballet School.
In “Pitch Perfect 2,” Pigliavento, a 2009 graduate of Mekeel Academy in Scotia, plays one of the leaders of the German a cappella group Das Sound Machine, which is vying for international honors with The Bellas, an all-girls a cappella group led by Kendrick’s character, Beca, and Wilson’s Fat Amy.
Pigliavento doesn’t have any speaking lines in the film, but every time his group is seen, he is front and center.
“When they called me back after the audition, the guy wanted to go over my SAG [Screen Actors Guild] contract and started talking about rehearsals,” he remembered.
“Then they said they would pay me. I thought to myself, ‘wow, this is definitely going to be a bigger deal than I thought. I’m going to get some real screen time.’ ”
“Pitch Perfect 2” isn’t Pigliavento’s first film. In 2011 he had a small dancing role in “Get On Up: The James Brown Story.” Both pictures were filmed in the South near Belhaven University in Alabama, where Pigliavento was finishing up his college education.
“I was just in a little snippet of “Get On Up,” but it was the same choreographer that was working on ‘Pitch Perfect 2,” he said, referring to Aakomon Jones.
“I got to know his assistant, and when they had open auditions in Baton Rouge he called me to let me know. And then when I got there, Aakomon smiled at me and I said, ‘great, you remember me.’ He said, ‘of course I remember you.’ I didn’t really think the audition went that well, but the casting director called two days later.”
“Pitch Perfect 2” is a huge hit, leading the box office — over “Mad Max: Fury Road” — in its opening weekend. In just two weeks, the film surpassed the original, which came out in 2011, and “School of Rock” as the highest-grossing music comedy film of all time.
Pigliavento was important enough to the film that he was part of the “Pitch Perfect 2” entourage that made it to the film’s Los Angeles opening.
“We went to the premiere and got to walk on the red carpet,” he said. “It was awesome. Everyone was taking pictures of us. I’m like, ‘is this really happening?’ I was just blown away, but it was a lot of hard work. We worked 14 hours a day sometimes. It was hard but it was fun. When we wrapped I got emotional. I knew I was going to miss hanging out with these guys every day.”
Pigliavento’s early performance training came at the Orlando School of Dance in Schenectady where he was closely mentored by his uncle, Orlando Pigliavento, as well as his two second cousins, Michele and Debra Ann Pigliavento.
“My parents are my biggest supporters, but they have no rhythm and they’re both tone deaf,” said Pigliavento, who has a twin sister and is one of eight children.
“My great-uncle, who is also a wonderful uncle, really helped me as did his two daughters. Michele and Debra Ann are the ones who really got me into musical theater.”
Throughout high school, Pigliavento performed in musicals at the Schenectady Light Opera Company and the Cohoes Music Hall. Although his two movie experiences have been enjoyable, he sees himself focusing a bit more on live stage work for now.
“I would love to do a mixture of both, but with the movies it seems like it’s feast or famine,” he said. “On a movie set they might have you anywhere from a week to two or three months. So what I’m doing now is going to New York for auditions and to work on my technique. I want to be fulfilled artistically through dance, and right now a ballet company on the stage is what does that for me.”
Reach Gazette reporter Bill Buell at 395-3190 or [email protected]