Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Guest Artists take over Academy Classes

Over the last couple weeks, First Stage Academy classes have gotten some extra help from seasoned professionals, from TV actors and Broadway stars to local stars. 

The Young Company class was recently treated to some audition coaching from Breaking Bad star Betsy Brant. She helped them with audition monologues and participated in a Q&A about working as a professional actor and answered their questions about acting in television and film.

"Betsy was incredibly generous with our students and was repeatedly complimentary of their work,” said First Stage Associate Artistic Director and Director of the Young Company John Maclay. “Our faculty is made up of actors who currently spend their lives on stage in the Midwest so it was great to get that first hand perspective of life in television and film in L.A. and New York. She is also just very smart, funny, kind and real so it was quite a treat to have her visit."
Betsy Brant (center) gets goofy with Young Company
Young Company was also visited by Broadway performer Geoffrey Goldberg. He did a dance workshop with Young Company as part of auditions for the Open Jar Institute program in NYC. Goldberg is a NYC-based theater artist, performer, choreographer, writer, director and educator. He has performed in MARY POPPINS on Broadway as well as national and regional productions of MARY POPPINS, CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG, FOREVER PLAID, GREASE, ON THE TOWN and more.

"He is a spectacular dancer himself and he really, I thought, gave an indication as to what skills are required in a big time professional dance audition,” said John Maclay.

Young Company was not the only class that has received some advice from guest artists. The Advanced Musical Theater class was visited by MilwaukeeRep Associate Artist Angela Iannone, IN THE HEIGHTS cast member Christina Aranda, and Danceworks artists Tina Wozniak and Amy Brinkman.

Christina Aranda with the 
Advanced Musical Theater Class
Angela taught a Laban workshop to help the students figure out how to use movement to help them on stage and with their characters.

“Angela taught us that a performer never has any excuse to lose their balance on stage. Ever! You always have to know where your body and your balance is and you have to be in control of it,” said Rachel T., one of the academy students. “It was definitely helpful advice for the rest of my life and career.”

Christina also helped the students by hosting a Finding Character workshop. She has been playing Abuela Claudia in Skylight Music Theatre’s production of IN THE HEIGHTS. Many students have seen the production and were very excited to meet and work with her.

“Her acting was amazing and I was so excited to see what she had to teach us. She taught us many exercises. She gave us a piece of music and with a partner we had to come up with what each sentence meant,” said Academy Student Meaghan B.

Danceworks' Amy Brinkman with the
Advanced Musical Theater Class
The Academy has also been partnering with Danceworks to continue to work on jazz, tap and musical theatre dance to help further the student’s skills and give them advice for future performances.

Camara S. was one of the students who enjoyed these guests. “Appreciate your passion and what you have; know what you want. I learned all this wonderful and helpful information that I know for a fact will help me in the near future.”
For more information about the Young Company, Advanced Musical Theater or other academy classes, please visit firststage.org.

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