Home PeopleHoboken Girl of the Week Hoboken Girl {of the Week}: Nicole D’Onofrio of Brave Bright Theater Kids

Hoboken Girl {of the Week}: Nicole D’Onofrio of Brave Bright Theater Kids

by Jennifer Tripucka
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Having grown up in Connecticut, Nicole D’Onofrio visited Hoboken after college in Princeton, and fell in love with the Mile Square’s charm. Five years later, she’s a 5-year resident, and has created a business that helps children overcome their fear of performing, called Brave Bright Theater Kids. And today, she’s our Hoboken Girl of the Week. Here’s a little bit more about Nicole.


Her road to her performing company was not an easy one, as stage fright was a common theme in Nicole’s life growing up. “People said I would never get over it, but I was able to get over it through performing in a safe, supported environment,” she shared with us. “My brothers were big baseball players, so I was always asked to sing the National Anthem at the games. One day I went to sing the national anthem at a big baseball tournament and the microphone wouldn’t work. All of a sudden the audience stood up and sang with me and that was the day I got over my stage fright. I felt safe.”


Since that time, Nicole decided to go to college for musical theater and has performed in musicals, improv troupes, a band, independent films, and TV — but even after all that, she felt something was missing. “I wanted to create a program where children could feel safe and love the art of theater, and not feel a pressure to perform,” and so she did what any entrepreneurial spirit would do: started her business, Brave Bright Theater Kids.

Fast-forward four years, and Nicole has been running her business for 4+ years, currently hosting classes at Celebrate Life Studios {1200 Park Ave} and Fit RxN in downtown Hoboken. “It has been so rewarding. I have seen so many children walk in the door feeling shy and walk out smiling and confident.”

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Like many Millennials in their late 20s/early 30s, Nicole grew up without technology for the first half of her life, so childhood was full of free play and imagination. “I believe children can have fun and learn without props — just using the power of their imagination, and I have seen this ring true time and time again.” The classes help build a child’s character, self-esteem, self-respect, and communication skills, all while celebrating the art of improvisation and creativity — two skills critical not only to actors, but to all people aiming to happily and successfully navigate through life. “I keep my classes small, so I can really get to know my students and their families. I am 100 percent Italian, so I grew up treating everyone like family, and it is very important that my clients are always greeted like family.”


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Because her classes became so popular with kids, people began asking if Nicole would teach an adult class, so she has started doing classes with teachers on how improv can help one become a better teacher. “This fall I am offering adult improv classes to the public. I developed a class for adults in order to enhance their ability to collaborate, think on their feet, take risks, work as a team and communicate with others effectively. I strongly believe that the art form of improv has the ability to amplify our skill sets and help you be a better friend, coworker, business owner and spouse.” So fun! Of course, we couldn’t let Nicole slip away without answering our infamous HG of the Week Qs. So here goes:

What is your favorite restaurant in Hoboken?

It is a tie between La Isla and Zafra’s. Whenever I go to those restaurants, I feel like I am on vacation for a night. I love the vibe, and the waiters are so friendly. The food is so fresh and plantains are my guilty pleasure. I highly recommend La Isla’s Coconut shake. I get it sugar free and milk free, and it still tastes sweet!

Take out:Honeygrow. I am a bit of a health nut and I love that I can make a custom salad and know what is in it!

What is your favorite boutique in Hoboken?

Noellery is my favorite place for jewelry. They have so many styles and it doesn’t break the bank. I also love Dear Hannah and Francesca’s for gifts for friends. Anthropologie is my favorite for clothes. I love their bohemian chic style and I have so many of their letter coffee cups filling my cupboards.


What do you love most about Hoboken?

I love that I can walk everywhere. It feels very european to me and I love being able to get everything I need, from groceries to toilet paper to coffee right down the street. I love that I can see friends in town quickly and bumping into people I know everyday. Water brings me inspiration and the fact that I’m able to jog or walk along the waterfront every day is amazing!

What is your favorite thing to do in Hoboken?

I am a bit of a coffee snob, so going to the coffee shops in Hoboken is my happy place. I drink coffee black, so I am pretty picky about the taste. I think I have been to every coffee shop in Hoboken, but The German Bakery is still my favorite. His coffee tastes the most like the coffee I have had in Italy.


How long have you lived and/or worked in Hoboken?

I have lived in Hoboken for five years and had my business for about four. I have worked with several other businesses in town-mostly working with the kiddos and you may have seen me in several shows with the Hudson Theater Ensemble.

What is your favorite outdoor place to spend time in Hoboken?

Reading on the benches along the waterfront is my peaceful place and I love to stick my toes in the sand at Newport Green, although that is Jersey city. I also like to sit on that huge rock at Maxwell Place Park. It brings back the kid in me!

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What is your favorite place to work out in Hoboken?

Devotion Yoga. I’ve been going there almost four years. I like to take classes before I teach. By giving to yourself, you have more to give to others. I also love running along the waterfront.


Where do you go out with friends in Hoboken?

We love to meet at Ultramarinos for some sweet treats and it feels so hidden in town. I love game nights at friends apartments in town, and I recently discovered Aether game cafe. It is five bucks and you can use their games or bring your own and stay all night. I am obsessed with Scattergories!

What is something you think needs to come to Hoboken?

I was hoping for Trader Joe’s and now it is coming, so now we need a Whole Foods! I recently went to Playa Bowls down at the Jersey Shore and would love to have them come here too. Açai bowls and Pitaya bowls are my favorite!

And now, I’ll leave you with a quote:

Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up. ~Pablo Picasso


So there you have it, your Hoboken Girl of the Week — making kids {and adults} braver, one human at a time. Have you tried one of Nicole’s classes? 

For more info, follow Brave Bright Theater Kids and Nicole on social media {Facebook + Instagram}. For adults interested in improv, classes will be on Wednesdays from 7 to 8pm starting from September 7th until September 28th. It is 20 dollars for a drop in class or 60 dollars for the 4 week session. To register, e-mail Nicole at [email protected].


Want to be featured as Hoboken Girl of the Week? Email your story to [email protected] for a chance to be featured. xo


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