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Right Through the Very Heart of It: Peter Toto Takes on Provincetown

by Steve Desroches

During his senior year at The Boston Conservatory at Berklee, Peter Toto had a decision to make. His college years had been a surreal whirlwind with all that came with the pandemic, smack in the middle of his higher education. Toto majored in musical theater with an emphasis on directing, and most of his classmates were heading to New York City or Los Angeles. But Toto wasn’t humming “New York, New York” or “Hooray for Hollywood.” Upon starting college, he thought he’d end up in either of the artistic mega cities, but the pandemic devastated the theater industry, and opportunities just vanished overnight with little sign of return in 2022. Plus, his dreams had changed. Just how, he wasn’t sure. And then he saw an advertisement for a job at the Provincetown Theater. And just like that, he eschewed bright lights and big cities for Provincetown, which, while small, has for decades provided wide open spaces for the biggest of ambitions. And he has no regrets.

“When I was in school something was weighing on me,” says Toto. “I wasn’t fitting in. I wasn’t being myself. I was trying to make myself more hirable for the theater. I just decided to stop it. As a gay man you often have to explain yourself or justify why you’re onstage. Here I could just be myself without any preamble. It’s really changed everything for me. It’s like this huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders.”

That freedom to be oneself is key to personal happiness and artistic success, and is also why people so often describe Provincetown as magical. It’s made all the more special when Toto compares his life to those friends who did choose big city life, who are working several jobs just to make ends meet and not getting to perform or work in their chosen artistic field. But here, Toto is a working actor, theater professional, and singer. 

However, to quote Freddie Mercury, “It’s been no bed of roses, no pleasure cruise.” That first summer in town he lived in one room with two guys from Bulgaria.  There’s the persistent worry about losing rental housing in Provincetown. And when it comes down to it, Toto is paying the same amount in rent that his friends in New York are, a rent he works seven days a week to pay. But there’s just more opportunity here, says Toto, and there’s a supportive community and a group of peers that elevate each other to tackle challenges and shine in their chosen pursuit.

In just two years in Provincetown Toto’s resume has grown exponentially. That first summer working at the Provincetown Theater in an assistant role grew to a role in the comedy The Lady Hamlet, filling in for a sick cast member. And then he moved up to his current role as artistic and production associate while also appearing in last summer’s production of The Fantasticks. As a singer he’s also holding court at Tin Pan Alley and the Gifford House’s Love Lounge creating his own niche in the town’s storied cabaret scene. And at the Gifford House’s performance space The Wilde, Toto is debuting a new show this summer called Wilde Card, a catch all comedy variety show every Tuesday night with Toto as host and featuring a revolving cast that presents stand-up, sketch, character work, improv, and more.

“I keep using the word stupid,” says Toto of how he describes Wilde Card. “I just want people to come and laugh as it’s just, you know, stupid. I mean that in a good way. Everyone really rises to the occasion. It’s Provincetown as I see it in all its chaos and energy.”

At 25, Toto is a bit of a unicorn in a town that skews older, which is fine by him as he’s always felt like a bit of an “old soul.” But he is part of a larger community of performers in town under the age of 35 that are making names for themselves, and who like Toto, saw that the traditional big cities no longer offer what they once did with sky high housing prices and the corporatization of so much of the arts. And while Provincetown obviously has a severe and out-of-control housing crisis of its own, somehow the town at the tip still has the gravitational pull of artists like Toto who have been coming to its shores to “make it” for over a century. In short, it’s still worth the struggle, while Manhattan and Hollywood has largely become the realm of trust-fund brats and nepo babies. There’s a lot going on here creatively and Toto is quite content to be in the thick of it.

“Provincetown….this place really does feel like home to me,” says Toto, a native of Monroe Township, New Jersey. “I keep telling myself I should try New York. But things here keep working out. I’d never get to do what I’m doing here in New York. This is where it’s at, at least for me.”

Peter Toto presents Wilde Card every Tuesday at 9:30 p.m. at the Gifford House, 9 Carver St. Tickets ($20) are available at the door and online at For more information call 508.487.0688. Toto sings in the Gifford Houses Love Lounge every Wednesday from 9 to 11 p.m. There is no cover. Toto also sings at Tin Pan Alley, 269 Commercial St., Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday, from 9 p.m. to 12 a.m. For more information visit or call 508.487.1648.

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Ginger Mountain

Ginger Mountain (MS Communications Media, BA Fine Arts/Teaching Certification K-12) has been part of the graphic design team at Provincetown Magazine since 2008. Ginger has worked as a creative director, individual contractor, and freelance designer with clients representing many areas —business software, consumer products, professional services, entertainment, and network hardware to name just a few — providing creative layout and development of a wide range of print media content. Her clients ranged from small local businesses to large corporations and Fortune 500 companies, from New Hampshire to Georgia

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