Man of Many Talents
By Mike Monopoli
Take a short drive to North County to check out entertainer Wil Darcangelo at Destaré, a fabulous new café/martini bar at 320 Main Street in Fitchburg. His Tuesday night gigs there are the latest entry in a long and varied performance history that has made Darcangelo the respected and eclectic artist that he is.
Fitchburg native Darcangelo got his start singing in the children’s choir at Rollstone Congregational Church in his home town. At age nine, he was granted his first solo by choir director Marion Rodgers. Quickly recognizing his talents, the church gave young Billy many opportunities to perform in pageants and musicals. He began to realize that singing was his passion, and that performing in plays was one way to fulfill his desire to sing in front of an audience. His professional career started when he landed a role in the U.S. national tour of Rumplestilstkin. Darcangelo lived in Toronto for six years working as an actor in musicals and also as the MC, vocalist and stand-up comic on a cruise ship.
Darcangelo has dabbled in other arts as well, including photography. His aptitude for taking photographs earned him two solo gallery exhibits, one in Provincetown, and one in New York. His eye for art came in handy when selecting the artwork for his new CD. “I had a great photographer, Andrea Seward of Habakkuk Media. Her photos actually helped inspire the look and feel of the new album. I designed the album based on my feelings about one particular photo of me against a brick wall,” Darcangelo tells us about his next album, which will be in the works in the new year. The original rock album will be called “Wild Archangel” and will feature a nude photo of the artist on the cover. “Nothing important is showing, of course, but it’s an image that I feel really comfortable about and I feel it’s the most honest artistic interpretation of the work inside. I’m photographed resting against a natural rock formation in Vermont that is shaped like a large angel wing, fulfilling the idea of the wild archangel. It is definitely very ‘me’.”
Upon return home to Fitchburg after his time in Canada, Darcangelo joined the Foothills Theatre Company in Worcester, where he worked as a producer/production manager during the 2000-2001 season, often acting in plays in later seasons. “A lot of my time is spent volunteering. Four years ago I started the Rollstone Performing Arts Series here in Fitchburg,” says Darcangelo. “It’s a non-profit, entirely volunteer run professional arts series where we have concerts and productions in the main sanctuary and the church hall of the Rollstone Church. I recently received a large fellowship for that, because it was recognized as a volunteer opportunity for the community. I’m the Artistic Director. There are 25 volunteers, all professional performers.”
To hear Darcangelo perform live these days, just take a short drive to North County to check him out at Destaré, a fabulous new café/martini bar at 320 Main Street in Fitchburg. His Tuesday night gigs there are the latest entry in a long and varied performance history that has made him the respected and eclectic artist that he is.
“Tuesday is the New Saturday” is the theme created by Darcangelo, one that also serves as the title of his first full length CD, which will be available soon at the club and on his website. Stopping in recently, I was dazzled by the appearance of Destaré, and immediately welcomed by the warm staff. Some people were finishing their day with a gourmet coffee and a luscious dessert, others were beginning their evening with an exquisitely presented martini. The Tuesday night show starts with a pianist, and then Darcangelo ~ as both vocalist and band leader ~ and the rest of the band join in a little later. Destaré is the perfect backdrop for his style, called Jazz Fusion, which blends old standards with rock and pop elements. Darcangelo couldn’t be happier at the opportunity to contribute to the improvement of downtown Fitchburg. He says enthusiastically, “I’m enjoying my regular night here immensely! A nice crowd has been building, it’s so gratifying to see such a diversity of people. There’s been a happy resurgence of interest in the classic American standards thanks to artists like Michael Bublé and others. Ever since I started doing vocals I don’t look at acting auditions anymore. I was an actor in Toronto for six years. I went to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York. Once I started singing there was no contest. Not singing a song in a show, but singing a song my way, in my key, with a band, that was the thing that really pressed my buttons.” Now at Destaré, as the band leader, “I decide what we play and how we play it. Basically the band lets me call all the shots.”
In honor of our Fashion Issue, too, Darcangelo tells us that “…I like Ralph Lauren, I like a classic cut. I like sophisticated dress, but my normal everyday gear consists of hiking shoes, cargo pants, tank tops, a chambray shirt.” The well rounded artist even apprenticed for two years with Matthew Visser, a couturier in Toronto. “From Matthew I learned craftsmanship” says Darcangelo. “He never cut corners, he did everything with precision and care. I learned to sew and draft patterns and I sometimes did work for theatrical costume shops here and there, and am regarded as a pretty expert stitcher. I could make a ball gown from scratch if I wanted to!” Darcangelo credits Vissler for teaching him craftsmanship and attention to detail, valuable attributes which can be applied to many concepts beyond fashion. “I have always fantasized that one day when I’m walking a red carpet, it will be in Matthew Visser couture.”
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