Italian exchange student—a YouTube music video star—has a lead role in Pioneer Theater Guild’s “Rock of Ages!”

Story, video and photo by Jo Mathis/AAPS District News 

What’s an Italian YouTube star like Alba Ciacco doing in a Pioneer Theater Guild musical?

For starters, the guild’s upcoming rendition of the Broadway hit “Rock of Ages!” is rumored to be Quite a Production.

And besides: The 17-year-old, who is here for the school year as an exchange student at Skyline High, loves nothing more than being on stage.

Skyline exchange student Alba Ciacco prepares for a rehearsal of “Rock of Ages!” to be presented this month and next at Pioneer High School.

Alba heard about the annual Future Stars talent show too late to sign up, so when she learned about the musical comedy open to students from all the AAPS high schools, she jumped at the chance and landed a part.

“Everyone makes me feel like home,” she said of the cast and crew.

Alba became a teen celebrity in her home city of Rome after she posted a song on Youtube about three years ago. One post led to another, and her videos have several million hits among them. A favorite—”Peró poi hai sorriso”—is a duet with a singer named Dante.

Alba says her experience with the “Rock of Ages!” production has confirmed her desire to become a professional singer.

In the meantime, she says that being an exchange student in Ann Arbor has been a wonderful experience she would recommend to everyone, and that her Italian friends around the country feel the same.

“It’s an opportunity that is really beautiful, and it opened a lot of possibilities,” she said. “It’s really something that changed my life; changed my way to see things, to see people, to meet people.”

Alba, who had never been to the United States prior to this school year, is staying with the Preissle family.  An only child, she’s enjoyed living with siblings. Two are in college, and one is a fellow Skyline student.

“It’s loud,” she said. “It’s fun. It’s different!”

She said one thing was striking when she moved here last fall.

“The first thing I thought when I came here was that everything was huge: supermarket, cars, everything bigger,” she said.

And what does she miss most about Rome?

No question.

“The food!” she said. “Mom, Dad, friends, too. But the food, a lot!’

Alba’s main goal was to improve her English, and she feels good about her progress.

“Before I came here, I thought I could speak really good English, but when I came here, it was like completely learning the English from the beginning again,” she said. “Because there are a lot of different words, a lot of slang that I didn’t know. I think now my English improved really much more.”

“People still tell me I have an accent, but I can’t hear it!” she added with a laugh, in her melodic Italian accent.

Alba will have one more year of high school when she returns to Rome, and will miss the teachers at Skyline.

“They really like the job they’re doing,” she said. “They really try everything to make students involved.”

Though there are many she’ll miss when she returns to Rome this summer, Alba won’t stay in Italy for long. She’s thinking of moving to the United States for college, possibly the University of Michigan.

“People (here) have a really open mentality,” she said. “In my country, it’s starting to become like this, but not yet.”


      Performance dates for “Rock of Ages!” are:

  • Friday, April 29 at 7:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, April 30 at 7:30 p.m.
  • Friday, May 6 at 7:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, May 7 at 7:30 p.m.Tickets  are $10 for students and those 65 and older, and $15 for adults.Reserved seating tickets are available in advance at General admission tickets are available at the door one hour before each performance. All performances are in Pioneer’s Schreiber Auditorium. For more information, go to



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