Narbeth actress stars as Adrian in 'Rocky, The Musical'

Gianna Yanelli's first took the stage in grade school at Waldron Mercy Academy in Merion Station.

Alicia Vitarelli Image
Thursday, October 27, 2022
Narbeth actress stars as Adrian in 'Rocky, The Musical'
EMBED <>More Videos

Gianna Yanelli's first took the stage in grade school at Waldron Mercy Academy in Merion Station.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A Narberth native is starring as Adrian in 'Rocky, The Musical', on stage right now at the Walnut Street Theatre.

Gianna Yanelli's first took the stage in grade school at Waldron Mercy Academy in Merion Station.

The Broadway star is now living her dream, so we brought the rising star back to the stage where her passion for the theater started: her elementary school.

When Gianna Yanelli returned, there were hugs up and down the hallways, including a big squeeze for her second-grade teacher.

"I can't believe it," Yanelli says. "She already saw the show!"

"The joy in my heart when I saw Gianna's talent on the stage, I can't even describe it," says Angela McKelvey. "You make us so proud."

Yanelli recently starred in Mean Girls on Broadway, working with Upper Darby's Tina Fey.

The moment she knew she was meant for the stage?

"Fiddler," says Barbara Baldwin, a music teacher and theater director at Waldron.

"I did 'Fiddler on the Roof' here and then my professional debut was Fiddler at the Walnut," Yanelli says.

She was a senior at Merion Mercy Academy at the time and just 18 years old.

Now, Yanelli is back at the Walnut Street Theatre as Adrian in 'Rocky, The Musical.'

Being back on stage in her hometown?

"It's unbelievable," Yanelli says. "It feels so out-of-body at the moment."

Yanelli recently sang the national anthem at a Phillies game.

"We are the next hot ticket in town besides the Phillies," she says. "I love that the Phillies are winning, but I do think it's sort of amazing that Rocky is an underdog and the Phillies are underdogs. Rejoice in both!"

When I asked what she would tell the young children at Waldron with the same dream?

"No dream is too big," Yanelli says. "Just shoot for the stars. I know it sounds cliche, but there's a reason that it's cliche. Because it happens."

'Rocky, The Musical' runs through November 6 at the Walnut Street Theatre.