When Nickelodeon sent out feelers looking for a young actress who could play spunky, energetic and curious, Gabby Pizzolo thought to herself, ''Well, I can do that."
A Niskayuna High sophomore with two Broadway shows among her credits, Pizzolo will add to her acting resume next Monday at 1 p.m. when Nickelodeon premieres a new animated series aimed at preschoolers, "Butterbean's Cafe." Pizzolo does the voice of Cricket, the younger sister of the title character.
"She loves her older sister and she's always eager to help the cafe," said Pizzolo, who has already seen some of the episodes. "She's energetic and curious, and it really is a cute show. I have to play younger, but I've always loved doing silly little voices, so that's OK."
Pizzolo says "Butterbean's Cafe" is a children's show with an important message.
"It's about a group of fairies that come together to work in a cafe that promotes healthy farm-to-table meals," said Pizzolo. "There's singing in the show, but it's about their friendships and their coming together for the cafe. It's about their relationships with each other."
The show was created by Robert Scull and Jonny Belt, and will feature celebrity chefs such as Rachael Ray, Richard Blais, Alton Brown and Padma Lakshmi, to name a few. In the series, Butterbean and her fairy friends -- Dazzle, Poppy and Jasper -- and her little sister Cricket take pride in serving up healthy snacks and sweet treats to the residents of their community of Puddlebrook. In Monday's series premiere, Butterbean and her friends work together to make the opening of the cafe a success, while a competing cafe owner, Ms. Marmalady, attempts to disrupt their plans.
Pizzolo began working on the series back in the spring of 2016.
"I was in New York City doing 'Fun Home,' so I started doing the recording down there," said Pizzolo. "Now, since I live up here I've been going back and forth to the city and also doing a lot at White Studio in Albany. We've actually already started working on Season 2, so that's very exciting. They try to accommodate my home life situation, so they're very nice. There's no one reading with me when I'm in the studio, but they have a team of voice directors and we work it all out together."
Pizzolo's acting career began back at Craig Elementary School on Balltown Road, and then in 2011 she landed the role of young Cozette in the Schenectady Light Opera Company's junior production of "Les Miserables." She was also in "Miracle on 34th Street" with the Classic Theater Guild, and also spent some time taking lessons at the Orlando School of Dance in Schenectady. Then, in 2013, Pizzolo was on Broadway performing as the title character in "Matilda," the winner of five Tony Awards. Two years later, she was back on Broadway in "Fun Home," another five-time Tony Award winner, playing Small Allison.
After her "Fun Home" gig was up, Pizzolo won the role of young CC in the Lifetime channel's production of "Beaches" with Idina Menzel. Then after taking some time off, she was back to work this summer with the Adirondack Theatre Festival in Glens Falls, playing Haley in a well-received new musical called "Loch Ness."
"I play the daughter of a marine researcher who has a pretty traumatic thing happen to her at the beginning of the show," Pizzolo said. "She loses a family member, so she goes with her father to do research at Loch Ness, and she ends up teaming up with none other than the Loch Ness Monster. It's a powerful story about how they work together as opposed to fighting against each other. I think it's really relevant to what's going on in the world today."
Pizzolo hopes her time with "Loch Ness" isn't complete.
More at NickJr.com: Butterbean's Cafe
"Our show was just the second stage production, so we're hoping it has another life and I'd love to be involved," she said. "It really is a great show."
For now, Pizzolo will spend her time working through her sophomore year at Niskayuna as well as Season 2 of "Butterbean."
"I have a few other television opportunities coming up in 2019, but I'm not allowed to talk about them yet," she said. "I'm having a lot of fun at school and recording for 'Butterbean,' so I'm keeping pretty busy."