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Different names - artistic talent: does it run in the family? You decide.

All in the Family: Cousins win scholarships from renowned state theatre group

Some things never change: the girls as toddlers at the piano and now, all grown up! Nicole Garamella and Emma Incometta both won scholarships from the prestigious Paper Mill Playhouse.
Diane Lilli

They say talent runs in families. In the Caldwells, two young cousins seem to prove that this adage is true. Like a family trait that travels beyond geography and time, cousins with a shared love of theatre have received news they share something both rare and precious.

Cousins Nicole Garamella and Emma Incometta, both seniors in High School, got word that they each received a prestigious Paper Mill Playhouse.

But don’t worry: these two young talents were not in competition, vying for one prize in the world of theatre. Instead, Nicole won the performance scholarship and Emma won the technical scholarship, each worth $1,000.

When asked if they were close growing up, the girls both said yes. And, no surprise, they also grew up enjoying singing, piano and theatre. Still, each girl is busy in her own senior year, so the idea that both would win these awards is surprising. The Paper Mill scholarships are a very popular and fiercely competitive contest, and the two cousins each with their own focus and their own unique last name, had no idea they would both win - during the very same year.

Emma attends Bergen Academies, a magnet school in Hackensack, while her cousin Nicole is a senior at James Caldwell High, in the Caldwells.

Though none of their grandparents were known for singing or acting, Nicole said her father did radio duets. Emma added, “I got my love of theatre from my mom. We took singing lessons and were in shows together all the time. She started running Properties and Set Decoration so I started hanging around backstage, too.”

As per training, both cousins said they were had a strong support system at home and were encouraged to train from an early age.

“I started taking voice lessons and performing in musical theatre when I was 6 years old,” said Emma. “I started doing backstage work when I was about 10. I started actually stage managing my sophomore year of high school.”

Nicole said she began taking classes at the age of ten, taking lessons and working in theatre.

As to how they each found out about their exciting scholarships, both Nicole and Emma were in different spots and only compared notes afterwards.

“I had figured I didn't get it because I thought the applicants were to hear back on the Friday,” said Emma. “But I got home from a rehearsal at around 11:30 on Monday night and saw a big letter from Paper Mill and started jumping around. I woke my mom up to tell her the good news! Knowing how professional and prestigious Paper Mill Playhouse is, I feel so honored that they recognized my hard work and everything I've learned in the past four years.”

Nicole said she was also thrilled.

“I was extremely excited,” she said. “Papermill has been a huge goal for me for the past few years, and this validated the effort.”

Now, with both girls headed off to college, Nicole to Marymount Manhattan College and Emma to University of North Carolina, School of the Arts, it’s a sure bet their strong familial bond along with their shared love of theatre will keep them close.

As Emma studies for her BFA Stage Management and Nicole focuses on her acting with a concentration in musical theatre, with hopes to add directing and playwriting concentrations, don’t be surprised if this dynamic drama duo shows up together one day on a major stage.


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Kudos to these cousins for each winning her own Paper Mill Playhouse! No wonder the scholarships are so competitive (well, you wrote that the scholarships are a "competitive contest," but we all do our best to translate your writing into English)! QUESTION, though...isn't there only one Paper Mill Playhouse? If so, how could each cousin win her own?

Ah, the mysteries....


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