Vincent Pirillo ’71 has seen a floating chandelier in “Phantom of the Opera” in a way audiences never will. He never needed the cast of “Cats” to comb the seats for him to get a close-up view.
Pirillo has been a part of these casts and more, enjoying a career which has taken him from Los Angeles to Vienna and beyond. It was his voice that brought him to the Mount.
“Paul Salamunovich came one day to our high school and did musical wonders with our glee club,” he says of the late Grammy-nominated conductor and an esteemed choral director at the Mount. “After finishing high school, I had the privilege of joining his church choir at St. Charles. After a few rehearsals he said, ‘I’m going to audition you for a scholarship. Sing ‘Holy God, We Praise Thy Name.’ I did and he said, ‘Great, you’ve got a scholarship.’ And that’s how I came to Mount Saint Mary’s.”
There, as a music major, Vince was a member of the Mount Singers. Salamunovich inspired the group to be in the moment in the music, often using wonderfully creative images. “It’s still the foundation of everything I believe about performing,” he says. He remembers the concerts, recitals and chamber opera productions fondly. “Mount Saint Mary’s gave me so much,” he says. “Everybody was creative, supportive and kind. I’m thankful every day.”
His career saw him involved in opera, plays and in many of the great theatrical productions: the aforementioned musicals as well as "Evita" and playing Daddy Warbucks in "Annie." And he has continually entertained audiences since, his home base now near London. Before the pandemic, Vince played a featured role in “Caroline, or Change” on London’s West End, Sharon D. Clarke having now taken her famed role to Broadway. And you may have even seen him in “Men in Black: International.” “There’s always a scene with a security guard reading a newspaper in every one of the “Men in Black” movies,” he laughs. “It was my turn!”
Parillo recently joined the Golden Graduates Society and spoke with people he hadn’t interacted with in a long time. He received his purple scarf and other gifts in celebration of the 50 year-anniversary of his commencement. “The Mount is a special, caring place. I'll always have a connection there.”
As Vince looks back on all his roles, including Daddy Warbucks in “Annie,” he says it truly comes down to that feeling of connection for him. “Theater helps people, both performer and audience, to better understand themselves and the world,” he says. “There is this exchange of energy between the performers and the orchestra and the audience that you can’t put your finger on. But it’s palpable — and it’s thrilling!”